ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates – After going winless in 2011, three-time major winner Padraig Harrington is sensing a victory is just around the corner.
Harrington shot a 3-under 69 Friday in the second round of the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship. His 140 total has left him in a tie for ninth place so far, only three strokes behind clubhouse leader Thorbjorn Olesen in a tournament that features the world’s four top-ranked players and Tiger Woods.
“I’ve been telling you it’s coming for a good while,” said Harrington, who last won in November 2010 at the Johor Open. “So I’m always optimistic but I’m seeing some great signs out there. I’m getting a quality strike on a lot of shots and as I said, I seem to be rolling the ball nicely so just kind of have to get used to it now and run with it.”
Harrington said he has started working with Dave Alred, who was credited with helping No. 1-ranked Luke Donald find his current form. Describing his role as a practice coach, Harrington said he was “trying to get the biggest transfer from the practice round to the golf course.”
“He’s making me more diligent in my practice,” Harrington said. “As I said all through last year, I felt I played well in practice and just never took it to the golf course. He’s all about taking your practice to the golf course. Really we time the practice, we count the balls. There’s a lot of things … it’s really putting a lot more precision into the practice.”
Winning in Abu Dhabi would be especially satisfying for the 40-year-old Irishman, who led going into the second round last year but was disqualified for signing an incorrect card after a slow-motion replay revealed that his ball moved ever so slightly after he replaced his marker.
The Royal & Ancient and USGA have since decided to revise the rule so that players who learn of a violation after they sign their cards can be penalized without disqualification.
Harrington said he was especially happy with his putting Friday in what he called a “solid round.” At one point, Harrington had four birdies in a row and closed out the round with five birdies and two bogeys.
“Certainly a little bit better into the groove but my irons, maybe I was better off the tee today,” Harrington said. “Showed a lot of good signs. I rolled the ball really nicely today. Nearly every putt I took, I gave the hole a run. Certainly scared it a few times. So, yeah, I was happy with that.”
But Harrington isn’t getting ahead of himself, knowing he still will need several good rounds this weekend to give him a legitimate chance of winning.
“Eight-under par, if it’s only one guy, it’s not too far behind,” Harrington said. “But if there’s a whole six or seven guys or eight or nine guys on 6-, 7-, 8-under par, 4-under is a little bit of work to do.”