CARNOUSTIE, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 30: Padraig Harrington of Ireland (left) and his caddie Ronan Flood celebrate after holing a bunker shot on the 18th hole during the second round of The Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at the Carnoustie Golf Links on September 30, 2011 in Carnoustie, Scotland. (Photo by Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

Life is a lot easier when you play badly and then all of a sudden you get in contention and win one. No one gets on your back. When you finish runner-up seven times, everyone is asking, 'Why aren't you winning?' It's much more fun when you jump into a win out of the blue. It's a much tougher game when you play consistently well.

Alfred Dunhill Links Championship

Entry Date:
Sep 29, 2011

Dunhill Links Championship - Review
I went into the Dunhill feeling good about my game. Having played in Austria I got to see where my game was and what I needed to work on. I was really looking forward to playing in St Andrews last week for a number of reasons - I was happy with my game, I like the courses and I have won the event twice before. Golfers are like horses and the old saying stands up for us too, "horses for courses"! I finished in eighth place last week, which is my best finish for quite a while, but I left feeling that I left a lot of shots out on the course.

It was an interesting week, bacause normally when we are playing the Dunhill Links we are battling wind, rain and the cold weather. This year we were putting sun block on and trying to find the wind. I think it was the calmest conditions I have ever seen up there in all the years I have been playing. I played Carnoustie on Friday and there was no wind, at the very most there was a draught and even calling it that is a push. It is very strange playing golf courses that you are used to playing in strong winds and then all of a sudden there is no wind. You are not really sure what to do! I found myself standing over shots thinking about what the wind would normally be doing; because of this I had to stand off a number of shots and go through my routine again.

I went into the week happy with how I played in Austria and feeling that the work I had done with Pete Cowen was starting to pay dividends. It was good to see him last week just to check a few things out and clear a few points up in my head. The rest of the week was spent getting the mental side of my game into shape - I worked on it during my practice rounds and on the range. As the week went on I was getting better and better in this area, although I still struggled with some shots on the course, smooth shots and three quarter shots, as it is harder to commit to these sort of shots when you are working on your technique. A full shot is a lot easier to hit when you are changing things, as you tend to be a bit anxious and hit everything a little harder anyway. This is something that will come as I get more comfortable with the changes.

Looking back on the week there are a lot of positives I can take from the week. I felt that I drove the ball exceptionally well again. I wasn’t quite as happy with my iron play but it was still decent. I only made two bogeys all week, which shows that my short game was in good shape for the few greens that I missed. I ended up shooting sixteen under par for the week, which was six shots behind Michael Hoey. With the amount of chances that I created I am coming away feeling that I left a lot behind me. The reality is that in links golf you end up hitting a lot of shots to the 15-20 foot range, but it is hard to hole this length putt. On a winning week you will hole a lot of them but for this week I shaved the edges many times. The day that really cost me contending was Friday at Carnoustie - I shot level par and went from being in the tournament to just above the cut line. There was no wind and the course was there for the taking but I just wasn’t able to take advantage. That said I don’t think Carnoustie owes me anything! On Saturday I played well from start to finish but again it was a case of not really holing anything until the last five holes or so. I ended up with birdies on the 14th, 16th, 17th and 18th to shoot 64 and move myself into the edge of contention.

My final round was a frustrating one as again I gave myself a lot of 15 footers, but I just couldn’t manage to get the ball any closer. In the end I shot three under and finished on 16 under par - I was a little disappointed when I finished as I felt that I could have made more of my chances. However it was a good week and nice to be back in the mix again. J.P. and myself made the cut and we finished in a tie for eighth in the team event also. We have won it twice before but this year we were a little off the pace that was set by Chris Evans.

I am now off for a week before I play in the Portugal Masters. I am looking forward to a few days to do some more work on my swing and get ready. It is feeling a lot better and now I just need to get myself to trust it more.

Dunhill Links Championship.
Final round on three under par 69 leaves Padraig in 8th place at the Dunhill Links Championship. Four birdies and just one bogie (two for the entire week), made up his card. His 16 under par total left him seven behind the winner, fellow Irishman Michael Hoey. It is a welcome return to form and moves him up to 71st place in the Race to Dubai rankings and 78th in the World rankings.

A timely return to form for Padraig as he shoots a sizzling 64 around the home of golf. Eight birdies including eight threes made up his card which leaves him in tied 4th place going into the final round and only five behind the leader. Having recorded just one bogie for the week so far will have given him great satisfaction but a low round is required tomorrow to break the log jam at the top of the leaderboard. His closing three birdie finish also dragged himself and JP into the final round in the pro am event.

Second round of one under par 71 for Padraig at Carnoustie leaves him at five under par for the championship and in a tie for 39th place. Twelve under par leads the tournament with an incredible 21 under par leading the team event on a calm, warm day. Out in two under par, he lost his way on the back nine and failed to hole any putts, dropping one shot on the par four 15th hole. He now plays St Andrews tomorrow which has been flat calm all week and will be hoping for a low round to get back in contention.

A very pleasing opening round for Padraig at Kingsbarns as he records a four under par 68 to leave himself in tied 11th place and only two behind the leaders after the opening round. Four birdies and no bogies made for a very clean looking card and he will hope to build on his good play over the next three days. He plays Friday at 10.17am local time with Robert Karlsson at a course he has fond memories of, Carnoustie.

Padraig is back at one of his favorite venues this week for the Dunhill Links Championship. The event is staged over three courses, Kingsbarns, St Andrews and his winning Open Championship course, Carnoustie. It is a pro am type event and Padraig and his partner JP McManus are previous winners here with Padraig winning the individual event in 2002 and again in 2006. . With the weather forecast set to be very good the scoring will also be red hot! Padraig tees off at 10.30am local time at Kingsbarns with Scottish newcomer, James Byrne.

Dunhill Links Championship - Preview
This week I am in St. Andrews for one of my favourite tournaments of the year, the Dunhill Links Championship. I always look forward to coming and playing here, for a number of reasons. Firstly it is played over three great courses, secondly there is a great atmosphere here all week and lastly because I get to play with J.P. It is no surprise that I have done well here over the years - whenever you turn up at an event that you feel good about, it generally helps your performance.

I arrived here on Sunday night after coming straight from Vienna. I came in early as I wanted to see Pete Cowen on Monday to see what he thought of the work I had been doing. I spent a few hours with him working on a few things and discussing what I needed to do. We were both happy with the progress I have made and I got a few more things clear in my head after chatting to him. Last week I got to test the work I have done under tournament conditions and as a result I had a few questions for Pete.

I played St. Andrews on Tuesday with J.P., Dermot Desmond and John Heggarty. On Wednesday I played Kingsbarns with Kieran McManus and Gerry McManus, which has become an annual match, but this year they got the better of me. I always enjoy the practice rounds here as there is great banter and they are competitive.

After working with Pete on Monday I spent Tuesday and Wednesday working on my mental game and trying to get ready for the tournament. With this in mind I tried to play every shot in practice as if I was playing in the tournament. With all the work I have been doing on my game lately it means that I have to put extra effort into my mental game as it is easy to concentrate on the technical side and forget about the mental aspects. I have played two of the courses in practice - I missed out Carnoustie given the work I was doing with Pete on Monday. It’s a course that I know very well so I wasn’t too worried about not getting a practice round in. I am generally happy with how I hit it during my practice rounds and all in all I am happy with how everything is going. Also I have spent quite a bit of time working on my putting this week and I am feeling that it is making a big difference.

Normally at this time of year here we are all muffled up in our winter woolies but so far this week it has been the sun block that is needed and the forecast for the week is good. I am starting on Thursday at Kingsbarns, which is in great condition. I am looking forward to getting started and to trying to get my first win of 2011.

Talk soon,
Padraig.

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