Padraig Harrington insisted he’s not feeling under pressure to perform despite his winless streak and his slow, slide down the world rankings.
The Irish star moved up to third in the world when he captured the US PGA and his third major title at Oaklands Hills just 19 months ago.
Now he’s 13th in the rankings behind the likes of Ian Poulter, Rory McIlroy, Camilo Villegas and while he claimed he no idea that he had slipped that far as he prepared to tee it up in this week’s WGC-CA Championship in Miami, it’s not something his loved ones bring up in the conversation.
Harrington joked: “You never look at the rankings on the way down, you only look on the way up … I’m sure my wife has it all figured out now and she has the good sense not to tell me I’ve dropped to 13th in the world.”
Harrington followers will not be surprised that he has made a slow start to the season with a share of 16th place at Pebble Beach his best finish from four starts. But he’s not pushing any panic buttons with just four weeks to go before the Masters and believes he’ll be ready to compete when the majors come around.
Harrington said: “Traditionally I always have my low point of the year at this time of the year and then I build back up through the season. I’ve done a lot of work over the winter and just takes time to get back into competitive play.
“I’m very happy with what I see and I’m working on the right stuff at the moment to get myself competitive. I’d like to say competitive this week, and if not this week, next week; and if not next week, Houston; and if not Houston, then the Masters.”
Looking at his early season form, Harrington has yet to putt well or strike the ball consistently well from tee to green for more than 18 holes at a time.
“At the moment, as regards to my ball-striking, I’ve definitely improved from last year. I’m hitting the ball better, straighter, but actually not as long. So that’s an interesting thing. I’ve made quite a few changes, and I’m assuming and hoping that the length will come back into it. I’d say maybe four miles an hour slower clubhead speed at the moment. Hopefully that will come back up with play and things like that. But in terms of accuracy, I’m a lot better, and I’m very happy in that sense.
“To be honest, though, that end of the game affects me — my ability, it might be five percent of my game. 95 percent of it is my short game and my mental game, and that’s what tends to go off. I’ve been concentrating in the winter on the five percent and now I’m back playing and I’m concentrating again on the bigger stuff and try to build that up. That’s why I would have a slow start. It’s just getting it all together and making the right decisions when I’m on the course.”
The Dubliner usually has two warm up events before a major but after blowing up in the final round of the US PGA last year after going head to head with Tiger Woods in Akron the previous week, he feels that one tournament is enough.
“Definitely having two big weeks before a major would get me too tired,” he said, though he will make an exception with the Irish Open and the Bridgestone Invitational leading up to the US PGA.” Mentally it would catch up, getting into contention.
“Maybe it was an issue at the PGA and it’s something you have to be wary of.”
Harrington has become comfortable with who he is and feels no pressure from outside agencies to win more majors.
“There’s no difference in the pressure, because the pressure to go win a major tournament, certainly for me, it’s all internal,” he said at Doral. “I want to win it badly, so it’s not like any outside expectations is affecting me anywhere. It’s all about my internal expectations.”
Harrington, meanwhile, has launched a new charity online auction section on his website www.padraigharrington.com.
The first item up for auction is signed 2007 Open Championship 18th hole flag, commemorating his first major win at Carnoustie.
Proceeds from the sale of the items will go to the Padraig Harrington Charitable Foundation.