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PADRAIG HARRINGTON is tipping Tommy Fleetwood to achieve what he failed to at Winged Foot — walk away as US Open champion.

And in the week when he should have been finalising his Ryder Cup team, the European captain believes two more of his stars, Jon Rahm and Rory McIlroy, can also stick it to the Americans this week.

4Tommy Fleetwood has been backed to win the US Open by Padraig Harrington 4The Irishman thinks Fleetwood's accuracy off the tee will see him top the leaderboard

If the Ryder Cup had not been postponed until next year because of coronavirus, Harrington would have just named his three wildcard picks for Whistling Straits.

He knows Fleetwood, Rahm and McIlroy would have been in his 12 without any help from him. And he thinks they will feature in another memorable finish at Winged Foot, just as he and Colin Montgomerie did in 2006.

But even though Rahm and McIlroy have both topped the world rankings this year, Harrington sees Fleetwood as Europe’s most likely winner.

He said: “When I look at that course I want someone who is going to find fairways all day every day and have the patience to keep hitting the middle of the greens without being tempted by the many sucker pins we’ll see.

“The US Golf Association does not believe in giving a sucker an even break, as Monty and myself found out the last time they played at Winged Foot.

“I see a lot of Monty in Tommy’s game — unflappable, laser- straight off the tee and a lovely iron player.”

Montgomerie was in position to finally win an elusive first Major in 2006 until he inexplicably pulled his shot from the middle of the last fairway and made a double bogey, handing the title to Australian Geoff Ogilvy.

Harrington said: “I actually had a putt to take Geoff Ogilvy to a play-off on the last green, despite bogeying 16 and 17, and I ended up three-putting.

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“But I didn’t beat myself up because I had to give the birdie putt a real run.

“My mistake was forcing things on 17, thinking I had to birdie it to make up for the dropped shot on the previous hole. That wasn’t the case but I was too naive and inexperienced to realise.”

The mistake cost Harrington dear. But it also gave him the know-how to go on and win three Majors in the next few years.

And he believes near-misses for Fleetwood will have helped him too.

The Irishman, 49, said: “Tommy has been through similar experiences, finishing fourth and second in recent US Opens and then as runner-up to Shane Lowry at Portrush last year.

“Don’t forget, he would have been a clear winner if it hadn’t been one of those Opens where Shane seemed to be playing a different course.

“Going into Majors, I just love momentum. Tommy got that when he finished third in Portugal last week.

“You could see him growing in confidence day-by-day — hole-by-hole even. He’s my idea of the winner.”

Fleetwood also reflected on Montgomerie’s performance in 2006.

He said: “I actually remember the last US Open there and it is tough.

4Monty and Harrington were involved in a memorable finish at the 2006 US Open 4Monty finished as runner-up at Winged Foot in 2006

“Monty is still one of my favourite golfers and I was pulling for him that week. It would have been great to see him win a Major.

“You have got to be prepared for anything, for bogey runs, getting around the greens, trying to make as many up and downs as you can.

“Par is always going to be your friend in a US Open.”

Harrington admitted it will be hard to fight off the home challenge, which he believes will be led by their ‘steady eddies’ — the likes of Xander Schauffele and USPGA winner Collin Morikawa, rather than world No 1 Dustin Johnson.

He added: “I just think there is such immense pressure on DJ right from the start and we know he has his off days — although not many.

“I like the fact that Rory is coming in under the radar for once, and I think Jon Rahm has grown up so much in the last couple of years.

“I enjoyed the way Jon talked about Mike Tyson saying everyone has a plan until you get smacked in the face because you have to be ready to take some hits at Winged Foot.

“It is the sort of course that beats you up relentlessly.

“When you do see the odd opening you have to throw everything you’ve got at it. Jon will do that.”

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Europe adopts tougher virus restrictions as infections surge

LONDON (AP) — As the U.S. closed in on 200,000 coronavirus deaths Monday, the crisis deteriorated across Europe, with Britain working to draw up new restrictions, Spain clamping down again in Madrid and the Czech Republic replacing its health minister with an epidemiologist because of a surge of infections.

The push to reimpose tough measures in Europe to beat back a scourge that had seemingly been brought under control in the spring contributed to a drop on Wall Street. The Dow Jones Industrial Average shed nearly 510 points, or 1.8%, and the S&P 500 fell 1.2%.

In Britain, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to announce a round of restrictions Tuesday to slow the spread of the disease. British Chief Medical Officer Chris Whitty warned that cases are doubling every seven days and could lead to a rise in deaths in the coming weeks.

The chief medical officers of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland raised the nation’s COVID-19 alert Monday from three to four, the second-highest level. More than 4,300 new infections were reported on Monday, a level not seen since early May.

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“We have, in a very bad sense, literally turned a corner,” after weeks of rising infections, Whitty said.

In France, where infections reached a record high over the weekend with more than 13,000 new cases in 24 hours, health authorities opened new testing centers in the Paris region to reduce lines and delays. Italy added Paris and other parts of France to its COVID-19 blacklist, requiring travelers from those regions to show proof of a negative test or undergo testing on arrival.

And the Norwegian capital of Oslo banned gatherings of more than 10 people in private homes after a spike in cases and strongly urged people to wear face masks when traveling on public transportation amid a strike by bus drivers that forced many commuters to take the tram.

“The situation in Oslo is serious. This development must be stopped, and we have to do it now,” Mayor Raymond Johansen said.

Police in the Spanish capital of Madrid and its surrounding towns began stopping people going in and out of working-class neighborhoods that have been partially locked down to combat Europe’s fastest coronavirus spread.

Authorities said that starting on Wednesday, an estimated 860,000 residents must be able to show that their trips out of their neighborhoods are justified for work, study or medical reasons or face fines. Parks are closed and shops and restaurants in the affected zones are limited to 50% occupancy.

The targeted locations have some of the highest transmission rates in Europe. The measure has been met with protests from people who think the restrictions are stigmatizing the poor.

The German city of Munich, with one of the country’s highest infection rates, will allow only up to five people or members of two households to meet, and will restrict private indoor gatherings such as birthday parties, weddings or funerals to no more than 25 people.

The Czech Republic also faces the possibility of new restrictions after the government appointed epidemiologist Roman Prymula as health minister.

Full Coverage: Virus Outbreak

In the spring, the country recorded a relatively low number of COVID-19 cases and deaths compared with hard-hit Western European countries such as Italy, Spain and Britain.

But after the government lifted most of its restrictions over the summer, confirmed cases began making a comeback and reached a record high last week. On Thursday, the day-to-day increase of new cases was higher than 3,000, almost the same number it was in the entire month of March.

Prymula said over the weekend that the loosening of restrictions was done too quickly.

Elsewhere, the U.S. was on the verge of hitting 200,000 deaths, with health authorities deeply worried about the resumption of school and college and the onset of cold weather, which will force more people indoors. A widely cited model from the University of Washington predicts the U.S. death toll will double to 400,000 by the end of the year.

India recorded nearly 87,000 new coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours. The nation of 1.3 billion people now has over 5.4 million reported cases, and within weeks is expected to surpass the U.S., which has 6.8 million reported cases. Nevertheless, the Taj Mahal reopened to tourists for the time in six months, though visitors will have wear masks and undergo temperature screening.

Myanmar’s biggest city, Yangon, began its first day under a tightened lockdown because of a rise in cases. Only essential businesses can remain open.

But there were glimmers of good news: All virus restrictions are being lifted across much of New Zealand with the exception of Auckland, the largest city. Health authorities reported no new infections on Monday, and the number of active cases was put at 62. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said officials have “reasonable confidence we are on the right track.”

And in Africa, the surge in cases has been leveling off after the continent’s 54 countries joined an alliance praised as responding better than some richer countries, including the U.S. Over 33,000 deaths have been confirmed on the continent of 1.3 billion people.

___

Corbet reported from Paris. Associated Press writers Kirsten Grieshaber in Berlin; Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark; Karel Janicek in Prague; Aritz Parra in Madrid; Nicole Winfield in Rome; and Tammy Webber in Fenton, Michigan, contributed to this report.

___

Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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