Padraig Harrington is hoping to take another big step towards his ultimate goal of winning again on the main tour as he returns to action at this week’s inaugural Ras Al Khaimah Championship in the UAE.
The three-time Major winner arrives to Al Hamra Golf Club with his game heating up nicely, buoyed by a top-10 finish at last week’s $8 million Dubai Desert Classic.
Expecting a much friendlier test this week not far from the Arabian Sea shoreline, Harrington is hoping that the improvements he experienced at last week’s Rolex event can snowball into even better results at this week’s $2 million affair.
“It’s obviously the start of the year so you’re looking to show some form that you can build on and I’ve certainly done that in the last two weeks,” said Harrington.
“I’m certainly not there, but it shows a lot of promise – the game has been strong. I was second in strokes gained tee-to-green last week, I changed putters and didn’t have as many three-putts as the previous week – I went from eight to one.
“So even though it wasn’t great putting stats, it was a big improvement for me. It’s going in the right direction and I’m looking for another step up this week.”
Harrington recently spoke about his need to sharpen up his scoring, particularly on resort courses that cough up plenty of birdie opportunities. Typically able to deliver on tougher tests, not least last week at Emirates Club where firm and fast greens caused havoc, the 50-year old will need to find himself in an altogether different headspace if he’s to compete at the upper end of this week’s leaderboard.
“It’s great for me because the Rolex Series are big championship courses and are tougher, the field is stronger and that suits my game,” Harrington explains.
“I don’t like the putting competitions where you have to shoot the very low scores and hole a lot of putts. The Rolex Series you’re pretty much guaranteed a strong golf course, a strong field. It’s not quite a major but it’s certainly akin to it.
“This is a very pleasant golf course, you can see it set up really nicely for the tourists down here and we’re going to have a pleasant week on it. You’ve got to shoot some low scores for sure and make some birdies out there, so it’s definitely a different test to last week but in its own right you’ve got to play really well and put some numbers on the board this week.”
A regular visitor to the UAE at this stage, Harrington also took time to contribute to the tourism drive in the area, believing this latest tour stop at Al Hamra will soon catch up to neighbouring courses of vaster notoriety.
“It reminds me of the early days up in Dubai, you’ve got all these beautiful hotels and they’re waiting for people to come,” Harrington said. “You have that feeling of how it’s going to change as it has in Dubai itself, it’s nice to come here at the start of that.
“It’s certainly beautiful, it’s a great facility and you’d certainly recommend it to anybody to come down here for a holiday. You can see how it’s at the start of its life here and it’s going to build over time.”
RAS AL KHAIMAH CHAMPIONSHIP – IRISH TEE TIMES (Irish time)
- Jonathan Caldwell – 3.50am
- Padraig Harrington – 4am
- Tom McKibbin – 7.40am
- Full scoring HERE