Ireland have had plenty of success at the U.S. Open in recent years with both Rory McIlroy and Graeme Mc Dowell getting their hands on the trophy.
The Northern Ireland duo will once again be the names linked with a challenge for the title when the action gets underway at the Merion Golf Club but with both McIlroy and McDowell’s form up and down this year, it is worth taking a look at Padraig Harrington to finish as the top Irishman in Pennsylvania.
It may be five years since the three-time major winner was last in the winner’s circle at one of golf’s blue riband events but this year the Dubliner has started to rediscover his touch on the greens.
Harrington’s putting has been a weakness in recent times but a move to the belly putter four weeks ago is starting to pay dividends after he took just 23 putts in a third round of 65 at the FedEx St Jude Championship in Memphis.
Effective scrambling and putting will be vital around the challenging Merion East Course but Harrington believes those two aspects of his game are coming together at just the right time.
“My short game is sharp and the putting, which has been my Achilles heel over last year, has definitely improved since I’ve gone to the belly putter,” said Harrington after the third round at TPC Southwind.
A tie for 10th place in Memphis has filled the two-time British Open winner with plenty of confidence in the build up to the second major of the season and 9/2 for Harrington to finish as the top Irish golfer at a soggy Merion provides more value than the 5/4 for both McIlroy and G-Mac.
Darren Clarke and amateur Kevin Phelan make up the Irish contingent in the field but at 22/1 and 28/1 repsectively, they are not likely to challenge the likes of Harrington, McDowell and McIlroy for the top Irish spot.