You need links experience to win The Open, Harrington warns big-hitting rivals

Padraig Harrington has warned golf's big-hitting hopefuls that The Open is a great leveller where experience is key.

The Irishman has twice lifted the Claret Jug, including when it was last at this week's venue of Royal Birkdale back in 2008.

Since then the likes of Darren Clarke, Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson and Henrik Stenson have claimed the honour, all of them in their 40s.

And Harrington, himself now 45, said having a lot of links golf under your belt is more valuable than being able to hit the ball long off the tee.

"Obviously an Open Championship can be played by a shorter hitter," he said. "And by suggestion, as you get older, you get shorter relative to the field.

"A guy hitting the right ball flight will hit it further into the wind - 160 miles an hour efficient ball flight is going to go further than 180 miles an hour inefficient.

"That's why an older guy can compete with the younger guys.

"Plus experience, a lot of the younger guys are physically gifted, but they don't have the experience with links golf.

"Assuming decent, tough enough conditions, it's a tournament for experience. Everybody can compete, short and long hitters. It's not one dimensional, The Open Championship."

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