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Page last updated at 07:37 GMT, Saturday, 3 April 2010 08:37 UK

Padraig Harrington open to Masters Tiger Woods pairing

Padraig Harrington (l) and Tiger Woods
Harrington (centre) played with Woods at last year's Tour Championship

Padraig Harrington says he would not be averse to being paired with Tiger Woods at next week's Masters.

Interest levels from fans and media will be at fever pitch for Woods's return after a five-month absence due to revelations about his private life.

But Harrington is undaunted by the possibility of playing with Woods.

"The less stressful a week I have the better but I'd like to be in the same group and watch what's happening, analyse and learn something," he said.

Last November, Woods crashed his car outside his Florida home, an incident that led to a storm of publicity about his extra-marital affairs.

The 34-year-old father-of-two admitted to cheating on his wife Elin before apologising in a televised statement on 19 February.


Four weeks later he announced he would make his comeback at Georgia's Augusta National course, where he has won four times, including the first of his 14 major titles in 1997.

When the draw for the pairings is made on Tuesday, the focus will be firmly on which two players partner world number one Woods in the first two rounds.

But Harrington, who finished 35th last year as Angel Cabrera won the tournament, believes he and the rest of the field could benefit with the spotlight on Woods.

"There has been a lot of talk about Tiger's return. There'll always be a lot of talk about Tiger and it does take a little bit of the pressure off the rest of us," said Ireland's three-time major champion.

"It will help other people go about their business."

As for Woods, Harrington thinks the return to competitive golf will do the American the world of good, regardless of how he performs.

His own expectations are going to be reduced

Padraig Harrington on Tiger Woods

"There's going to be a huge release of tension," said the Dubliner, who is playing at the Houston Open this week.

"If he three-putts the first green, I still think he'll have a smile on his face walking to the second tee.

"Players play very well when they have that relaxed attitude to their golf.

"Even his own expectations are going to be reduced compared to every other time he tees off. That could help him.

"The lack of competition is going to be difficult, but he's one of the best players in the world for competing without competition because he's done it so many times in the past."

Harrington, meanwhile, is hoping a more positive approach can help his prospects at Augusta.

"It comes down to trusting my routines and possibly being a little bit less defensive," he added.

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Woods to make comeback at Masters
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