Padraig Harrington spoke last night of his admiration for Heather and Darren Clarke - and about his decision to donate all his prize money from this week's United States PGA championship to breast cancer research.

Clarke's wife died early on Sunday after a long battle with the illness and Harrington heard about it as he was travelling to the final major of the season.

Fellow Dubliner Paul McGinley, a former neighbour of the Clarkes, instantly decided he was staying at home to attend tomorrow's funeral but Harrington and others close to the family, such as Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell and Thomas Bjorn, have made the trip.

"Darren made it quite clear he felt the players should go and play and that made our decision a lot easier," said Harrington.

"I talked to Paul on Sunday morning and there was no decision on his part. Paul and Abi (McGinley's wife) have been very close to the Clarkes.

"There are more important things than golf and I think he did the right thing. Donating my money makes me feel like I am doing something practical and I'd be delighted to hand over whatever." The first prize on Sunday is well over £650,000.

"When you go to a funeral, you can't be much help anyway. This is at least a practical way of helping," he added.

Harrington, whose father died of cancer last July, added: "I think both Darren and Heather were exceptionally brave and so dignified about what they've gone through.

"Heather never once complained and they haven't got down. They just struggled on. Both Darren on the course and Darren and Heather off the course were an example to everybody.

"I think Darren's play (he almost won the Irish and Scottish Opens this year) is only a reflection of Heather's attitude off the course - that she wanted Darren to play.

"It's a tough game and it's exceptionally tough when there are distractions. Obviously, Darren was carrying all of that on to the golf course, all that baggage. He handled himself extremely well and, as I said, I think the way he was was because Heather was so strong behind him."

McDowell, like Heather from Portrush, admitted he wrestled with his conscience before deciding to following Clarke's advice.

"I was in Orlando when I heard. It was terrible news and we all feel for Darren and his family right now," he said.

"My mum and dad are quite close to Darren's mum and dad, so I thought 'Will I go back or will I not?' It was a tough one and I'm sure it was very tough on Lee."

Westwood was in the Bahamas when he was told. "I spoke to Darren yesterday. He wants us to keep playing and I think it's what Heather would have wanted," said the Worksop player, who has partnered Clarke in two Ryder Cups.

McGinley's decision jeopardises his tenth place in the Ryder Cup race with three events to come, but Harrington commented: "I still think he's going to make the team."

The Dubliner will return at next week's Bridgestone World Championship in Akron, Ohio, and the race ends with the BMW International in Munich.

Westwood, among those who could go past McGinley, finished 16th when the PGA Championship was last held here at Medinah in 1999.

He played with eventual winner Tiger Woods in the third round and Westwood had to be put on a drip after suffer severe dehydration.

"I was close to collapse on the back nine," he recalled. "I got light-headed and everything started to have a glazed look. I was drinking a lot, but it wasn't enough. I started upping my fluid levels last week to try to make sure the same doesn't happen."

The heat is not expected to be a factor this week, however.

Tiger Woods, meanwhile, expressed his sadness at Heather Clarke's passing and described Harrington's donation as "very admirable". He said: "Paddy is one of the greatest guys out here. You know he's got a big heart every time you talk to him.

"As far as Darren dealing with the things he's had to deal with, no one can truly understand what he's gone through unless you've experienced it yourself."