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Dublin: 4°C Sunday 17 January 2021

Defending champ Harrington craves more hype and adrenaline at Honda classic

With Jordan Spieth not competing in Florida, Rory McIlroy will hope to snag the title from his fellow Irishman.

Irish golfer Padraig Harrington
Irish golfer Padraig Harrington

DEFENDING CHAMPION PADRAIG Harrington feels ready to win back-to-back titles at The Honda Classic this week.

Harrington returns to the scene of his drought-ending triumph at the PGA National, starting on Thursday, with victory firmly on the agenda.

The Irishman emerged out of nowhere to end a seven-year wait for a title by outlasting Daniel Berger in a play-off last year.

Fast-forward 12 months and Harrington, who finished in a tie for sixth at the Tournament of Champions last month, believes he is in better shape compared to this time in 2015.

“I don’t think it would be [unexpected] in the sense that I’ve shown better form so far this year, and plus, people are expecting me to be doing something out of the blue,” Harrington said.

“If I get myself in contention with nine holes to play, I think my fellow players would see me as a threat.”

I need to be hyped up. I need that adrenaline - I need that buzz at the end of a round. I’m always a lot better when I’m afraid, when I’m fearful and nervous and got that stress on me.”

Likely to stand in the way of Harrington’s bid for a second Honda Classic crown is world number three and pre-tournament favourite Rory McIlroy – who will tee off alongside Harrington and Zach Johnson at 17.45 (Irish time) tomorrow.

McIlroy returned to form at the Northern Trust Open last week as rival Jordan Spieth missed the cut.

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Mideast Emirates Golf Source: AP/Press Association Images

The Co. Down man was well in contention up until the final round, when he carded a 75, which included seven bogeys in a remarkable collapse, but will still be a threat in Palm Beach Gardens – particularly in the absence of Spieth.

Shane Lowry (12.15 tee, Irish time), Rickie Fowler, Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Jason Kokrak and former world number one Adam Scott are also in the field.

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