VILAMOURA, PORTUGAL - OCTOBER 15: Padraig Harrington of Ireland walks towards the 18th green and a bunch of birds during the third round of the Portugal Masters at Oceanico Victoria Golf Course on October 15, 2011 in Vilamoura, Portugal. (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.

Portugal Masters

Entry Date:
Oct 5, 2011

Portugal Masters - Review
I am leaving Portugal after finishing in the top twenty, which wasn’t what I was hoping for when I arrived but there are a lot of positives to take from the week. I came here looking for my first win of 2011 but unfortunately I am still looking for it. I shot rounds of 67, 71, 67 and 68 to finish on 15 under par for the week, six behind the winner. These are decent scores but on this course they were just a little shy of being really good.

Looking back on the week I know that I left a number of shots on the course in all my rounds but the one that cost me most was my second round. I shot one under on Friday which lost me a lot of ground - I missed a few putts and hit it in the water twice. On a course like this where the field is making birdies on most holes, you can’t afford to be hitting it in the water at all let alone twice in a round. It was the fourteenth hole that cost me most, I had just chipped in on the 13th for birdie to get me to three under for the day and I felt that I was making my way towards the business end of the leaderboard. However, a hooked drive into the water on the 14th and then a bad chip after I had hit my third shot just off the green cost me a double bogey. It was a total momentum stopper - I had been moving forward and then all of a sudden I gave back most of my good work. I wasn’t able to make any birdies to recover and I ended up shooting only one under par for the round.

My other three rounds were solid but not electric. I actually came off the course after all my rounds feeling that I had missed chances and that I should have scored better. I felt that bar my second round I struck the ball well and gave myself the opportunity to score which was a good thing. In the end I finished up six behind Tom Lewis, which when I look back over my rounds I know I could have made up easily. In my final round alone I missed four to five putts from inside nine feet.

While it is disappointing to be leaving feeling that you left a lot of shots on the course I am actually taking a lot of positives from the event. I felt that I hit the ball solid for most of the week and created plenty of chances; I would have liked to hole a few more but then so would everyone. Like a lot of players I know that I could have finished a lot better, but the good thing about this feeling is that I know it will come. I will get a week where I hole a few more putts and get myself into contention. I am striking the ball well and so it is only a matter of being patient.

This was my last chance to qualify for the HSBC Champions in Shanghai, which will be the first WGC event that I have missed. It will be disappointing to be sitting at home watching it on television but I just haven’t played well enough to qualify and so I can only blame myself. I am looking forward to my remaining tournaments as I know that I am very close to a real big week. The great thing about playing this game professionally is that there is always next week.

Portugal Masters.
Final round of four under par 68 leaves Padraig in a tie for 16th place at the Portugal Masters. Five birdies and just one bogie on the par four 7th hole made up his card. It was another solid week for Padraig as he adapts to new swing changes and also moves him up the Race to Dubai table to 67th place and within striking distance of the top 60 place he will need to play in the event.

Fine third round of five under par 67 leaves Padraig on a total of eleven under par and in a tie for 20th place going into Sundays final round. A bogey free round was very pleasing after Fridays play and he will hope for more of the same to try and climb the leader board. Eighteen under par leads the tournament.

Disappointing second round for Padraig at the Portugal Masters as he shoots a one under par 71 to leave him at six under par going into the weekend. Thirteen under par leads the tournament. Three under par playing the 14th hole, he had an ugly double bogey six which ruined a promising day. He will need to go low over the weekend to contend!

Confident first round of five under par 67 leaves Padraig in a tie for 16th place and only three behind the leader going into Fridays second round. His round contained eight birdies which is encouraging on a course that low scoring is expected for the week. Padraig has previous good form here in 2009 having shot a 62 on his way to a third place finish. He tees off late in the second round at 12.40pm local time with Nicolas Colsaerts and Alexander Noren. c Portugal Masters - Preview
I am in the Algarve for the Portugal Masters. I really enjoyed the course and the area when I was last here in 2009 but haven’t been able to make it back due to scheduling. When I was doing my schedule for this year I was delighted to see that I would be able to make it here. Not only did I like the course, I also had a good week here finishing third; I had an outside chance to win on the back nine on Sunday but in the end Lee Westwood ran away with it. This year I am coming into the event feeling good about my game and my performances of late. Over the last couple of months I am a lot more comfortable on the course and with how I am hitting it.

After the Dunhill Links Championship I had a week of at home; normally on a week off I practice hard but this time I actually didn’t do too much. I felt that I was hitting the ball well and that there wasn’t much to work on; because of this I didn’t spend too much time on my long game but instead spent most of my practice on my short game. At the Dunhill I felt that all elements of my game were in reasonable shape, although there were areas that could have been better like my wedge play. My chipping and short putting were good, I only made two bogeys for the week which is a good sign, but unfortunately I didn’t make quite enough birdies.

Over the last few weeks I have been looking at my game to see what needs improving - one of the main areas is my putting from 10-20 feet. I just haven’t been holing enough from this range - from short range I am right up there with the best and the same once I get outside 20 feet. The 10-20 foot range is key to performing well as it is hard to get a full approach shot inside 10 foot. Lately I have spent a lot of time hitting more putts from this range, working on my reading and pace and just getting used to seeing the ball going in on the putting green. Another area that I have been working on is from 50-70 yards; Pete Cowen pointed out to me that I had dropped right down in this range over the last couple of years. I don’t get too hung up about statistics as they can be misleading but this one is one that I used to be very good at and now I have dropped well down. The main reason is due to the change in the grooves - with the old grooves I was able to control the distance much better as the ball came off with so much spin. Now the ball is coming out much higher, flying further and so harder to control. I have put in a bit more time on it lately to get a better feel for how the ball flies and to get more distance control so hopefully it will pay off.

I got here on Sunday evening and have played 36 holes in practice, two nines and 18 in the pro-am. I am very happy with my game and the course is in good condition, although a little soft. I like the course as there are a good mix of tough holes and birdie chances. You know going out that the scoring is going to be good and so it adds a bit of pressure, but if you drive and wedge it well here then the scores are on.

My main target for the week is to claim my first victory of 2011, which would have the added bonus of qualifying me for the HSBC Champions tournament, my last chance to do so.

Talk soon,

Padraig Harrington heads to Portugal Masters
Three-time Major winner Padraig Harrington has added the Portugal Masters to his schedule where he will join five of his teammates from the victorious 2010 European Ryder Cup Team in the field at Oceânico Victoria Golf Course from October 13-16. He tees off in the opening round at 8.20am local time with Nicolas Colsaerts and Alexander Noren.

The Irishman finished third behind winner Lee Westwood on his last visit to Vilamoura in 2009 and he will face some strong competition for the title once again, with Ross Fisher, Peter Hanson, Martin Kaymer, Miguel Angel Jiménez and Francesco Molinari, as well as 2010 European Ryder Cup Captain Colin Montgomerie, already confirmed for the €2,500,000 event.

Harrington unveiled some new swing changes at the recent Austrian GolfOpen presented by Lyoness and he will be looking for a good performance in Portugal as he bids for a place in the season ending Dubai World Championship presented by DP World in December.

Despite winning in Asia last year, the 40 year old’s last European Tour victory came in the 2008 US PGA Championship, which followed back-to-back Open Championships, and he is hoping to end that three year barren run and capture his 15th European Tour title at the Portugal Masters.

“Portugal is always a great place to play golf and I’m looking forward to returning to Vilamoura,” said Harrington. “I played pretty well there on my last visit two years ago. I remember shooting 62 in the second round so it is a course I have played well on in the past.

“The field looks very strong for the Portugal Masters but I’ll be trying to concentrate on my own game and hope I can contend and pick up points towards the Race to Dubai and Ryder Cup qualification. It would be fantastic to win another European Tour title.”

Harrington is one of five Major Champions in the field for the fifth edition of the tournament, alongside American John Daly, Kaymer of Germany, Scotland’s Paul Lawrie and Spaniard José Maria Olazábal, the 2012 Ryder Cup Captain.

Three former Portugal Masters champions will also be returning to Oceânico Victoria Golf Course in Australian Richard Green, who defends the title he won last year, Spaniard Alvaro Quiros and inaugural winner Steve Webster of England.