Competition junkie Harrington believes he has improved as a player on Champions Tour

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Competition junkie Harrington believes he has improved as a player on Champions Tour

Padraig Harrington (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

Pádraig Harrington certainly hasn’t joined the PGA TOUR Champions to collect a handy paycheque and feels playing on the over fifties circuit has improved his game because he is in contention regularly.

Harrington initially struggled to make the adjustment from the PGA Tour to the Champions Tour admitting his short game wasn’t up to scratch to compete with the likes of Bernhard Langer but this season he has been a constant feature at the top of leaderboards, winning the US Senior Open and DICK’S Sporting Goods Open along with eight top-10 finishes.

The Dubliner always knew he had the athleticism to compete at this level as one of the younger golfers at 51, but feels he is sharper than he has been in years.

“I’ve been playing very nicely, so kind of continue on in that sense. I’m enjoying being out here, most weeks being in the business end of it. I’m seeing an improvement in my game because of that. When you’ve got a chance of winning and every shot counts, you kind of I suppose you focus on the right things. And my mental game’s getting better, my putting is getting better being out here. So I actually think I’m improving as a player certainly over the last couple of years, from the last couple of years to this year and I’m enjoying that.

“I wouldn’t know about endurance, but I certainly have the advantage athleticism-wise, yeah. I kept my speed up, so I hit it substantially further than the majority of the field, which helps. I’m hitting shorter irons, yes, so that end of the game.

“But where I’m seeing the real improvement is just because I’m a little bit more comfortable out here, I’m starting to putt better, I’m starting to be more clued in about my mental game and the mistakes that I was making maybe, but now I’m making less and less of those.

“Yeah, it’s sharpening my game being in contention. There’s a big difference. You play most weeks on the regular Tour, you’re there finishing 20th, 30th, you don’t learn anywhere near as much as you do by finishing a shot or two back. You’re sitting there on a Sunday night, if I had just been a little bit more into my routine or if I had just been a little bit stronger focused, I could have saved those couple of shots,” added the three-time major winner.

Harrington is 2nd in the season-long Charles Schwab Cup rankings as he bids to hunt down Steve Stricker, leading him to readjust his playing schedule. The former European Ryder Cup captain is usually a fixture on the DP World Tour but feels he can bring the best out of himself by being regularly in contention on the Champions Tour.

“It is interesting that I’m not playing Wentworth this week. I believe my golf has improved by playing on the Champions Tour and I really do want to give it a run against the younger guys, but I kind of chickened out doing that this week. I have to sit back and wonder am I just not ready or did I really chicken out?

“Wentworth hasn’t been my best golf course, so I want to go somewhere where I’m comfortable. I’m going to play Dunhill in a few weeks’ time where I’m comfortable. But I do believe I’m a better golfer than I was this time last year and I believe that’s because I’m on the Champions Tour and I’m figuring things out.

“This is the big difference, you know. If I turn up on a regular week and, you know, say I turned up at a regular PGA Tour event and I finished 10th, say 15th, 15th is a good figure because that’s (indiscernible), players would come up to you and say well done. It just means nothing to me, couldn’t care less, 15th, nothing. I come out here and I’m in contention, I finished fourth last week, I knew I had a chance of winning, so when somebody comes up to me and says well done, I say, you know, I was right there.”

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