Hometown heroes to put on show at Irish Open

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Hometown heroes to put on show at Irish Open

DUBLIN - Darren Clarke, Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell’s involvement in the Irish Open will make certain this week’s event is special, according to fellow major winner Padraig Harrington.

After Irishman Harrington’s 2007 British Open triumph, three Northern Irish winners have tasted success in a major in more recent times.

McDowell won his first major at the 2010 U.S. Open, McIlroy broke all kinds of records in landing his first at this year’s U.S. Open then Clarke lifted the British Open earlier this month.

“There’s no doubt that me winning helped Graeme, and I don’t know if we helped Rory, I think that might have happened,” Harrington, the 2008 U.S. PGA champion joked on the European Tour Web site.

“Martin Kaymer certainly said my wins helped him, and I’m sure the lot of us winning has helped Darren do it,” the world No. 64 added of German Kaymer’s U.S. PGA victory last August.

Since his heady days of 2007 and 2008, Harrington has not won on either the PGA or European Tour, but rather than feel any pressure he said he was enjoying soaking up the great atmosphere at the Killarney Golf and Fishing Club in Ireland.

“There is already a real buzz here and it’s only Tuesday. It’s really going to be a special week,” the 2007 Irish Open winner told Sky Sports.

Defending champion Ross Fisher, also struggling for form, said the vast crowds actually help his game rather than distract him.

“I would rather play in front of 100,000 than a hundred as it makes me help myself focus more, and I want to try that little bit harder,” the European 2010 Ryder Cup member said. “We are out there to win for ourselves, but at the same time, I feel like we are out there to try to put on a show for the crowd. That’s what I try to do for them.”

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