Irish golfer Padraig Harrington (L) and Norther Ireland golfer Rory Mcllroy (R) walk past media during a Chinese Junk tour of the Hong Kong Harbour at the Hong Kong Open press conference on November 29, 2011. World number two Rory McIlroy said he had flown into Hong Kong determined to capture a title he has long desired and thereby crown a tumultuous past 12 months. AFP PHOTO / AARON TAM (Photo credit should read aaron tam/AFP/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.

UBS Hong Kong Open

Entry Date:
Nov 30, 2011

UBS Hong Kong Open - Review
I went to Hong Kong needing to finish in the top seven to make it to the Dubai World Championship. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to do it and so my season has come to an end. It wasn’t quite the finish that I had hoped for but I knew going there that it was a possibility that I wouldn’t make to the final European Tour event of the year. It is disappointing not to have made it but it is not the end of the world. I know that if I had played better during the year then I would be there and so there is no one to blame but myself. It is the first time since I turned pro that I haven’t made it to the season finale.

I finished well down the leaderboard in Hong Kong but the funny thing is that I actually didn’t play that badly. I am walking away from the tournament feeling that I could definitely have finished in the top seven - getting to the winning score might have been a push but I certainly gave myself enough chances to finish high enough to extend my season. The first couple of days are a good example of this as on both days I bogied my last hole. On day one I was one under playing the last and I ended up shooting level par as I failed to get up and down from left of the green. On Friday I was level par for the tournament playing my last hole, the ninth, which was a good birdie chance. However I ended up making a bogey after a poor drive and then taking three from off the edge of the green. These bogies meant that I made the cut on one over par, whereas another week I would have played these holes in one under and would have been thinking about getting into contention. The week was like that, every time I made a step forward I seemed to take one backwards and I just wasn’t able to make anything happen all week. This was emphasized on Sunday - I got off to a good start by holing a good putt on the first for birdie only to bogey the second. In the end the harder I pushed for birdies the more the round got away from me.

I have looked back at the week and gone through my stats. I was shocked to see how many putts that I missed, with over forty putts from the twenty foot or less range. As I went through my stats I realized that it was my short game that had let me down - the amount of putts that I hit and a number of poor chip shots and bunker shots. All this says to me that I was mentally tired and the shots that I dropped all pointed at this.

My season is now over which means that I can sit back and take it easy for a few weeks. I am doing this straight away with a two week family holiday in Dubai - we had it planned based on me being in the top sixty in the Race to Dubai but even though I am not playing we are still taking a two week family holiday. I am really looking forward to a couple of weeks relaxing and playing with the kids, which is exactly what I need after a long season.

It was a disappointing end to my season but I am long enough in this game to realise that these things happen. I am feeling good about where my game is and the work that I have done in the last few weeks with my mental approach has been positive too. With all this in mind I am looking forward to my season next year but for now it is all about relaxing, enjoying my family holiday and then Christmas.

UBS Hong Kong Open.
Final round of three over par 73 leaves Padraig in a tie for 51st place at the USB Hong Kong Open. Having opened brightly with a birdie three he failed to make another birdie for the day and recorded four bogies. This means that he has failed to reach the finals of the Race to Dubai. Fellow Irishman, Rory McIlroy won the event with a twelve under par total.

Third round of level par 70 leaves Padraig with a mountain to climb to make the top 60 in the Race to Dubai standings. Three birdies were cancelled out by three bogies on a day where some fine play was mixed with some erratic play.

Second round of one over par 71 for Padraig in Hong Kong, Starting on the back nine, he was one under par after recording a couple of early birdies but a visit to the water on the par five 2nd hole cost him a bogey six and momentum. He also made a bogie on his last hole and will need a big weekend to progress further! Three over par made the halfway cut.

First round of level par for Padraig in Hong Kong leaves him in a tie for 29th place and six behind the leaders. Having been out in one under par after nine holes he recorded three bogies and three birdies for the day. He tees off early on Friday at 7.50am local time with Juvic Pagunsan and local hero, Thawom Wirachant.

UBS Hong Kong Open - Preview
This week’s tournament, The Hong Kong Open, is the final event for qualification to the Race to Dubai. I am currently outside of the top 60 and by my reckoning I need to make at least Euro50,000 this week to ensure qualification, which equates to a top seven finish. As it stands at the moment I am Euro53,000 behind Peter Lawrie who is effectively in 59th position. The way I look at it I need to pass him this week - we played a practice round together on Tuesday and we were talking about it. I told him that I needed to pass his money total and so I hoped that he passed the guys in front of him so that I don’t cost him a place in the Dubai field.

I got here on Sunday evening so as to be able to play on Monday. I played nine holes, then another nine on Tuesday and then the pro-am on Wednesday. The last time I was here was when I was defending my title in 2004; it is great to come back to a course that you have done well on before and see that there has been very little change. The only change from 2004 is that they have substituted two of the par threes - the second hole has been taken out and they have added a par three in as the eleventh. I always enjoyed playing here; it is an old style course with mature trees that demands good course management. There are many ways to play the course but for me I find it best to be conservative from the tee, as trying to over-power this course can lead to disastrous results. Even though it is less than 7,000 yards it has plenty of bite. The main defense of the course is the greens; the majority of them are slightly raised and quite sloped, so it is important to try and keep your approach shots below the hole where possible. To do this it is vital that you are coming off the fairway so that you can control your second shots, hence my cautious approach from the tee so as to give myself the best chance to take on the pins.

I have played 36 holes over the three days practice and I am happy with how everything has gone. I am feeling very comfortable about my game and looking forward to getting started. I have been asked a lot about what I have to do to get into Dubai, however I came here looking to win the Hong Kong Open for a second time. The task at hand this week is to get myself into contention on Sunday and give myself a chance to win coming down the stretch. I am not thinking about what I need to do to qualify for next week, as that is only a distraction from trying to win this week.

The course is great condition as it was when I was last here. It is a great course that must be treated with respect and is the sort of course that I really enjoy playing - it is important to be good with your wedges and the rest of the short game.

This week the European Tour sponsored a horse race at the Hong Kong Jockey Club on the Wednesday night and I was asked to present the trophy to the winning trainer. It was a great night out and there was probably 100 people from the tournament gathered in a big corporate box. There was a great atmosphere and in the end the only problem was that we had to play golf on Thursday.

Talk soon,
Padraig.

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