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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 July 2007, 16:39 GMT 17:39 UK
Harrington dismisses Faldo claim
Padraig Harrington
Harrington is one of the favourites to win this year's Claret Jug
Padraig Harrington has rejected Nick Faldo's claim that the leading European players are too friendly to win the game's major championships.

Faldo suggests the lack of competitive edge is one of the reasons there has been no British or European winner of a major since Paul Lawrie in 1999.

But Harrington said: "We all have different ways of going about things.

"I don't believe that just because they are nice guys, they can't win a major. Surely that couldn't be it."

World number one Tiger Woods says Europe's barren run could be blamed on his belief that tournaments are harder to win now than when Faldo was in his prime.

Six-time major winner Faldo, who tees off in his 32nd Open on Thursday at Carnoustie, also believes the amount of money in the sport could have also led to a lack of drive.

"Look back at Seve Ballesteros, myself, Bernhard Langer, Ian Woosnam, Sandy Lyle and Jose Maria Olazabal," he added. "None of us went round together, we all kept our cards close to our chests.

606: DEBATE
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"It is interesting to me that now they are all so much more chummy. Is that healthy? I don't know, I'm just posing the question.

"We had to win to have a future. Now you just have to get out there and be a very good golfer. We had to win to have a pension fund and now you get a contribution towards a pension fund simply by making halfway cuts.

"Seve and I started out with nothing and ended up with 100-odd wins between us. Now they get all excited about having 20 wins between the lot of them."

But Harrington says Europe will not have to wait long before celebrating a major triumph again.

"There's this image of the European team being the best of buddies, but I think that's a false image. We are for the week of the Ryder Cup, but we're competitors the rest of the time," said the 35-year-old Dubliner.

The fields weren't so deep 30 years ago and you could get yourself in contention more often

Tiger Woods

"It wouldn't be as intense as the rivalry between Faldo and Seve but that's two guys right at the top.

"At the moment maybe the Europeans haven't got up to the level of winning majors. If one wins the others will be out to hold their place in the pecking order and the rivalry may happen at that stage.

"We have an awful lot of talented young players. They will win majors, there's no question about it. It could happen this week.

"It's just a question of that little breakthrough. If I don't win this week I'll certainly be rooting for another player I'm familiar with so that next time it will be easier because he did it."

Woods, who is chasing a third straight Open victory, said he had many friends on the tour.

"I've had and still have a lot of great friends out there," he said. "Some of my best friends have moved to the Senior Tour but I've got to know a lot of the younger kids coming out here and played practice rounds with them.

"The game has changed. When Nick first came out on tour he would the first to attest that he had to win to get notoriety.

Paul Lawrie
There have been 31 majors since Lawrie's Open victory in 1999

"You had to win to get money. Today you can just get top-10s and make over a million dollars. That's a great living.

"The talent pool is deeper now and it makes it more difficult to win and to gain the experience you need to put yourself in contention time and time again.

"The fields weren't so deep 30 years ago and you could get yourself in contention more often."

Lawrie's Open victory at Carnoustie, the last time the event was held at the course, came courtesy of a play-off win over Jean Van de Velde and Justin Leonard.

And the Scot said: "It's not a lack of talent that we have on the tour. It's amazing that no-one has won.

"I don't like being the last European to have won. I'm a European, I want to win majors. If I'm not winning them, I want one of my guys winning them.

"I'm sure if one of them wins, maybe a few of them might follow. Maybe that's the hurdle some of them need to get over.

"We have so many on the European Tour that can win majors. I think it will end soon."

SEE ALSO
Open Diary
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Open tee times
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Picking the Open champion
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19 Jul 99 |  Golf


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