Originally created 11/07/02

Harrington and Goosen compete for Order of Merit



SOTOGRANDE, Spain -- Two weeks after trading barbs over their slow play, Padraig Harrington and Retief Goosen will square off at the season-ending Volvo Masters. As a bonus, the Order of Merit will be at stake.

The honor goes to the top European money leader. Goosen, who won it last year, leads Harrington by just $23,110.

Thursday's first round will be the first meeting between Harrington and Goosen since the Madrid Open, which ended Oct. 27. Before that tournament, Goosen called Harrington "definitely the slowest player in Europe." Harrington noted that Goosen wasn't exactly swift himself.

Harrington's point was backed up the next day when Goosen was given a time warning during the opening round. He responded by saying he might not return for the event.

On Wednesday, both golfers said they had resolved their differences.

"I'm good friends with Padraig, and I enjoy playing with him. We will have a good time tomorrow," Goosen said.

Goosen, who had the European title all wrapped up last year before this event, which Harrington won, said he was surprised to be still leading the Order of Merit Race.

"Padraig is probably a bit disappointed how he played the last couple of weeks (the Madrid and Italian opens). I'm very surprised I'm still on top. I didn't think I would be," he said.

The players had different views of the Order of Merit entering the tournament.

"You can tell from my demeanor these last few weeks, it does mean a lot to me. It's something I do want sometime in my career," Harrington said.

Goosen is more laid back about the week.

"Obviously, to be No. 1 is great but if I walk off Sunday as No. 2 I won't be too disappointed. There is no way I'll be upset if I don't win the Order of Merit."

Former winner and seven-time No. 1 Colin Montgomerie also has a serious ambition this week: to win for the first time this year.

"There are 24 title winners in the field this week and for the first time in 10 years I'm not one of them. I can't believe that," he said.

The 66-man field includes the top 55 from the Order of Merit, the last five champions if not already included and others from various exempt lists.

Goosen and Spaniards Sergio Garcia and Jose Maria Olazabal are all battling jet lag after playing in the U.S. Tour Championship in Atlanta last week. Garcia said he expected to feel better each day.

"You are not as fresh as in February or March and the majors are gone," he said. "You still try as hard as you can but you are not as fiery."