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Harrington having to qualify for US Open, hoping not to miss it for 1st time in 15 years

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VIRGINIA WATER, England - The downturn in Padraig Harrington's career will see the Irish golfer enter U.S. Open qualifying for the first time on Monday at Walton Heath on London's outskirts.

After missing out on qualifying for the Masters for a first occasion in 14 years, Harrington is staring at the likelihood of not competing in a U.S. Open for the first time in 15 years.

Harrington, ranked 209th, will be among 121 players teeing up in the 36-hole qualifier, with the leading dozen earning the right to contest the U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2 from June 12.

Harrington, who the British Open in 2007 and 2008 and the U.S. PGA Championship in 2008, played on the Old and New Courses at Walton Heath for the first time this week.

"Of course, I would rather not be going to Walton Heath, and I don't want to go there on Monday with any predetermined idea of what I have to do on one course and not the other," Harrington said on Friday.

Also at Walton Heath will be two-time Masters winner Jose Maria Olazabal, who has had to qualify in six of the past eight years, and advanced only three times. Monday's field will also include former Ryder Cup players Thomas Levet, Soren Hansen, Robert Karlsson and Edoardo Molinari.

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