By Bernie McGuire in Dubai.
Padraig Harrington is displaying a distinct lack of pressure in his game since carrying the burden of a European Ryder Cup captain.
Harrington birdied his closing two holes in a round of 72 to secure a share of ninth place at seven-under-par at the Slync.io Dubai Desert Classic.
The result for the 50-year-old Harrington comes a week after his T20th result at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship while he shared eighth place when last in Dubai, and that was late last year at the AVIV Dubai Championship.
And along with a T12th result in the first week of November, all four results for Harrington have materialised since the Ryder Cup.
“I’m doing nice things and I feel good about my game, and when I got to nine-under-par I felt the tension and what you need to feel being late on a Sunday,” Harrington said who takes home a cool €145,414 for the performance.
“It’s probably the first time in a while I’ve felt that tension. I’m getting there and the good thing is I have up there in a lot of events I’ve played lately.
“I have done everything well at some stage over these two weeks here in the UAE. I didn’t putt that well last week but I definitely putted much better this week even though the greens this week were so hard to putt on.
“The good thing is I am now fully focussed on my own game whereas I couldn’t say that when I was handed the captaincy, so that’s a possibility. I just know what I need to do and I am not being distracted, I guess, by other matters.
“I am happy with the physical part of my game and now I am focussed on the good stuff, and playing without burden even though it’s tough out here.
“Again, the last nine holes were fast and very firm and that puts you under a lot of attention and pressure, and you would be a good golfer if you played in those conditions all the time.”
Harrington will head Monday on the hour’s drive ‘up the road’ to the UAE emirate of Ras Al Khaimah for Thursday’s start to the inaugural $2m Ras Al Khaimah Championship on the Al Hamra course laid out very close to the Arabian Sea. The course has hosted three Challenge Tour events but this will a first for the club that does boast a big Irish membership.
In contrast, Shane Lowry is headed to the Saudi International after a closing hole birdie in his round of 71 to eventually share 24th place in Dubai at one-under-par.
Lowry had bogeyed the first, birdied both the third and 11th holes and dropped a second shot of his round, for a second day running at the 12th.
“I had a good week and felt I played well,” said Lowry.
“I struggled on Thursday and Friday but it was good to have a nice weekend, even though the greens were pretty tough. They were firm and with some tough pin positions, but that’s the way they should be. I like them like that.
“So, the game is good. I am happy with the last two weeks as they have been perfect for me.”
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