Padraig Harrington has been handed a huge Race to Dubai boost heading into this week’s second edition of the AVIV Dubai Championship on the Fire Course at Jumeirah Estates in Dubai.
Harrington had arrived in the UAE earlier in the week lying 58th on the Race to Dubai money list having picked-up 10 places following last week’s share of 12th place at the Portugal Masters. It is eight places shy of qualifying for next week’s season-ending $US9m DP World Tour Championship.
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However late Wednesday local UAE time, both Sergio Garcia, lying 43rd on the money list and Patrick Reed at 49th, were taken off the Race to Dubai with all those behind Reed, including Harrington, moving up two places so that Harrington now tees-up at 56th on the Tour’s money list.
The Masters winning duo will still tee-up in the DP World Championship but money earned will not count on the Race to Dubai as the pair failed to meet certain Tour tournament playing criteria. In Garcia’s case he did not play a ‘home’ event in his native Spain during 2021.
Europe’s Ryder Cup captain reckoned at first he would need a top-7 result to be among the leading 50 on the Race to Dubai money-list to join fellow Irish Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry next week for the season-ending DP World Tour Championship on the adjoining Earth Course here at Jumeirah Estates.
But that initial assumption has changed.
“I jumped 10 spots last week up the Race to Dubai but it wasn’t enough, so I need to do the same this week,” Harrington said.
“So, after first looking at top-seven this week on the Fire Course I am probably looking more at a top-10 which is a huge difference
“Patrick was lying 49th so my thinking was in trying to break into the top-50 you always look for someone on the bubble and not playing. So learning that both Sergio and Patrick are still playing but not appearing on the money list, the two of them have done a lot of guys, including myself, a big favour come Sunday night.”
Though this is the second year of the AVIV Dubai Championship, what is slightly bizarre, having not been here last year myself, is that all the flags, banners and the enormous amount of signage is all about next week’s DP World Tour Championship. And when the busses bringing the players and caddies arrive to Jumeirah Estates all you see in driving up to the drop-off point at the clubhouse is the 18th hole of the Earth Course and all the corporate and spectator facilities not for this week’s event but next week’s closing 2022 tournament.
AVIV sponsorship appears on the practice range distance markers and, of course, on every tee and all about the Fire course.
A number of players outside of the top-50 have commented it’s a kind of inspiration this week in striving to qualify for next week’s event but not Harrington.
“No, I don’t see it that way”, he said. “My focus is squarely on this week’s AVIV Dubai Championship and that’s how it should be. If I qualify for the DP World, and it’s my goal this week that I do, then I can shift my focus to the Earth course.
“I’ve not played this week’s Fire course before this week but I’ve now played 27-holes and both courses are very similar with a little less water on the Fire course compared to the Earth whereas everything else is pretty similar with big targets, big bunkers everywhere and undulating greens so you need to know where the slopes on the greens are because there is a few blind second shots that are blocked out by bunkers and other things”.
However, Harrington’s got other concerns than competing in Dubai for two weeks running. He’s visibly fighting a right knee concern and has had the knee in a brace for the two days in being at the course. He had the brace on for Wednesday’s early morning start to the Pro-Am but after a short luncheon break, there was a noticeable limp as he made his way back to the range for an afternoon session.
“I have the brace on as I am struggling to hit shots at the odd times but it’s on my knee for support when I’m walking”, he said as he leaned against the golf buggy he had been driving during the Pro-Am.
“I’m getting treatment on it, so I feel I should be okay.”
Joining Harrington is Jonathan Caldwell and also up two players, thanks to Garcia and Reed, to be lying 96th on the Race to Dubai and looking for a second Tour win this season after his breakthrough success in Sweden.
IRISH TEE TIMES – AVIV DUBAI CHAMPIONSHIP (Irish time)
- 3.30am – Padraig Harrington
- 7.20am – Jonathan Caldwell
- Full scoring HERE