Harrington to donate PGA winnings to charity

MEDINAH, Ill. -- Ireland's Padraig Harrington hopes to hoist the PGA Championship trophy and hand the winner's check of $1.2 million to charity to honor Darren Clarke's late wife, Heather, who died of cancer on Sunday.

Harrington told reporters at Medinah Country Club on Tuesday that he and other European players were competing on the urging of Northern Ireland's Clarke rather than withdrawing from the year's final major to attend the funeral.

A teammate of Clarke on the last European Ryder Cup squads, Harrington said he would donate any money he earned at the championship to a charity of Clarke's choice.

"I'd be delighted to hand whatever over this week," he said. "This is at least a practical way of helping.

"Darren has his choice of charity, and I'll donate whatever I win this week," he said.

He said the Clarkes had set a shining example of perseverance since Heather, 39, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002.

"I think both Darren and Heather were exceptionally brave and so dignified about what they've gone through," he said about the couple, who had two young sons. "It's been terribly hard."

Harrington, who challenged earlier this season at the U.S. Open and finished fifth, is optimistic about his chances of making a hefty donation from his PGA performance.

"I feel really good about my game and I think I'm very confident. I've probably never been as confident or as relaxed going into a lot of tournaments this year," he said.

Yet after winning two tournaments on the PGA Tour last year, the 34-year-old Dubliner is looking for his first victory of 2006.

"I'm a much better player than I was last year," he said. "It's just a strange game.

"Maybe I need to go back to a fearful panic before a tournament. I seem to perform ok then," he said.