Harrington condemned if he doesn’t contend
Currently 67th, Dubliner needs to leapfrog at least seven players to make tour finale in Dubai
Pádraig Harrington lines up a putt on the fifth green during the pro-am for the Turkish Airlines Open at the Montgomerie Maxx Royal Course in Antalya, Turkey. Photograph: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
Pádraig Harrington has faced more make-or-break moments in his career. That must-make up-and-down over the burn in front of the 18th at Carnoustie, for one, en route to his breakthrough Major win in the 2007 British Open.
Clutch putts in the Ryder Cup, for another.
It makes the challenge facing him here in the Turkish Airlines Open over the Montgomerie Maxx Royal course these next four days pale by comparison. But it remains a challenge, the latest of his career.
In his head, he remains an accountant. The numbers game has been played out in his mind. For the 42-year-old Dubliner to break into the top-60 on the European Tour order of merit and make it to next week’s tour finale in Dubai, he has set the absent Luke Donald – currently 55th – as his target.
“That’s the mark. If he was here, I’d have to do more . . . a top-10 finish, on my own, should do it.”
Harrington – one of three Irish players in the field, along with Shane Lowry and Damien McGrane, who benefited from a number of withdrawals, including former Masters champion Charl Schwartzel – concedes “it is not the end of the world for me” if he fails to make it to the European Tour’s closer (the DP World in Dubai) but the intent is there to make it.
He is currently 67th, needing to leapfrog at least seven players ahead of him in the order.
“I’ll just try and play well and win this week is really what you’re trying to do. It’s not necessarily about (trying to get) a top-10. That might become an issue later in the week. You start off to win. Absolutely,” he said.
Quite the quest
Winning, of course, has become quite thequest on tour for Harrington. His last official win on either the European Tour or the PGA Tour came in that US PGA championship success of 2008 and his last win anywhere came in the four-man field Grand Slam in Bermuda last year.
Can he win? “My game is good. It will be interesting to see if there is a difference between playing well and getting yourself into contention and then winning when that opportunity (comes).
“I would be happy with my game. My chipping and putting seems to be coming back nicely; they had been letting me down through most of the season.
“I haven’t been putting well for a while. I see some light at the end of the tunnel, which is nice. It’s been going on now for two years, my putting, and it is nice to putt well (again).
“I seem to be a bit happier on the greens at the moment and my chipping is better. It’s good. The long game has been better than ever, so that hasn’t been much of a concern to me. It was just the short game and not getting the most out of my rounds.”