ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - JANUARY 28: Padraig Harrington of Ireland plays his second shot at the par 5, 18th hole during the third round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship at the Abu Dhabi Golf Club on January 28, 2012 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)
Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship - Review
After a thirteen-hour delay at Abu Dhabi airport I am finally home. It was a long day traveling but the good thing about it was that I was coming home. I am disappointed with how my week ended up in terms of my score and finishing position, because after the first two rounds I was looking at getting myself into contention for the weekend, but two average rounds over the weekend moved me down the leader board rather than up. My round on Saturday actually came down to not holing any birdie putts - bar a couple of holes I felt that I hit the ball well and gave myself plenty of chances for birdies. Sunday was a slightly different story - I hit a few hooks on the range during my warm up and it unnerved me a little heading out to play. As a result I didn’t hit the ball well for the front nine, but for the back nine I managed to get it out of my head, I got back to striking the ball well and gave myself several good birdie chances. I managed to birdie the 16th and 17th and was in a good position to birdie the last but I missed the green with my five wood and then failed to get up and down. I ended up shooting one over par, which was very disappointing.
For the two weeks I felt that I hit the ball very well, the only patch in the two tournaments when I didn’t was both of the front nines on Sunday. One thing that I noticed that gives me great confidence for the season was that I am hitting the ball quite long off the tee and a lot more consistent. All in all I am very happy with what I saw in my game for the last two weeks; from tee to green I played well and it was actually my putting that let me down. However I felt a lot better over the putts in Abu Dhabi than I did in Fancout.
As much as this week was about the tournament I was very interested in how my first week working with Dave Alred would go. Prior to the week I was excited at the prospect of what he would bring to the table but also a little apprehensive. Now that week one is over I am very excited about working with him and I can’t wait to get to see him again. The work we did was fantastic. I was asked about him after one of my rounds and about what he does; the best way I could explain it was that he doesn’t have new answers or questions, he merely asks the same questions but in a different way. We worked together for the week - he observed what I do and then gave his thoughts on it and how I could do it better, in essence how I could do it so that it is better preparation for competing. He has totally changed the way I will practice by giving it more meaning. Even though this week was not a great week in terms of my performance it was one of my better weeks in a long time as the work that I got done and the changes I made with Dave will have a huge effect for the rest of the year.
I left Abu Dhabi as excited as I have been for a long, long time. I am looking forward to putting his ideas to work in my practice at home and can’t wait to see him again.
I am home for a week and then head to the States for the AT&T National Pro-am, after which I will be mostly in the States through the Masters.
Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.
Final round of one over par 73 leaves Padraig at three under par and in a tie for 35th place in Abu Dhabi. Robert Rock won the event with a thirteen under par total. On another frustrating day on the greens, Padraig had a succession of pars that saw him lose ground to the field. He now has a week off before returning to the USPGA Tour for two events. Disappointing third round for Padraig in Dubai as a par, birdie, bogey start was followed by 15 pars to see him drop down the field on a low scoring day. Fine second round sees Padraig jump up into a tie for 4th place going into the weekends play. Starting on the back nine he was level par after eight holes and then three putted the par five 18th after two great shots saw him hit the green. He put this disappointment behind him with four birdies in a row to see him finish on four under par for the tournament. Seven under par leads at the halfway stage. Solid opening round of one under par 71 leaves Padraig in a tie for 20th place. Five under par leads the field. In a mixed card, he had five birdies, four bogies and nine pars on a tricky afternoon for scoring. He is well placed with an early start Friday and will be hoping for the same calm conditions that the first round leaders got.
Padraig continues his quest to qualify for the first world golf championship of the year in February as he tees it up at the Abu Dhabi golf club in the United Arab Emirates. The top four players in the world rankings play and there will be ranking points a plenty this week. It is an event that has bitter sweet memories for Padriag as he made a sensational start to the event last year with a stunning 65 but was disqualified on a technicality. His good form last week in Fancourt was blighted with a couple of poor finishes so he will be hoping to eradicate the mistakes and challenge for the lead come Sunday afternoon. He tees off in the opening round at 12.15pm local time with in form player, Charl Schwartzel and Thomas Bjorn.
Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship - Preview
I am back in Abu Dhabi for the HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship. This year it is my second event of the season whereas last year I was opening my season here. In fact I have opened my season here for the last few years and have done quite well, bar 2010 - in the first round I opened up with a 65 which had me in the lead only to find out on Friday morning that I was disqualified as my ball had moved when replacing it on a green and had not fully returned to its original spot. Since then the rule has been changed whereby I now would receive a two shot penalty and remained in the tournament.
Even though I was disqualified last year it is still good to be back as I have played well on this course, although not as well as Martin Kaymer. I have been coming here since the tournament started so I know the course well; there have been a few tweaks to it over the years but in general it is the same golf course. It’s nice to turn up at a course that you know well as you don’t feel under pressure to get acquainted. I arrived here on early Tuesday morning from South Africa after travelling all day on Monday. Normally I would have tried to get out on Sunday night so as to be here on Monday but I didn’t feel I had to be here playing the course.
Normally I am here this week feeling a little unsure about my game and what to expect but having my first event under my belt helps me feel a little more settled. However this week is my first week working with Dave Allred, Johnny Wilkinson’s kicking coach. He has been working with Luke Donald for a couple of years now also. I spoke to him for the first time the week of last year's Irish Open and we have been in contact since but this is the first time that we have got together to work. I have asked him to come and look at my practice routines and how I prepare for tournaments to see what he thinks. We have only had a couple of days together but so far I am really enjoying what he has to say. He is bringing a new dimension to my practice - in a sense he will reinvigorate my practice session and as a result help me be more prepared for a tournament. It has been very interesting so far; the practice days were busy but very enjoyable.
This is always a busy week - as it is so early in the season a lot of people travel out. Pete Cowen is here which is great as I hadn’t seen him for a few weeks and I wanted to check a few things with him. The good news was that he was very happy with the work I have done. I have also been working with my putting coach, Paul Hurion, this week. Again I haven’t seen him for a while so it was good to get to spend some time with him.
All in all it has been a busy few days, but enjoyable. In one sense I wish I didn’t have to play a tournament but then on the other hand I am looking forward to getting started and to see how the things I have been working on go. Even though I have been working with Dave, Pete and Paul this week I am still here to try and win.