Padraig Harrington watches the flight of a tee shot in Turkey. Picture Stuart Adams On the face of it, Darren Clarke and Padraig Harrington are in the twilight years of their careers at the elite level but both still have much to offer as they bid to recapture the sparkle of old.

Clarke will spend the next few years concentrating on the PGA Tour, where he had 32 putts in a one under par 69 to finish the day seven shots behind first round leader George McNeil in the McGladery Classic at Sea Island.

Turkish delight? Padraig Harrington eats a snack at the Turkish Airlines Open. Picture Stuart Adams www.golftourimages.comExempt in the US until the end of 2016, 45-year old Clarke lives and dies by the sharpness of his short game, especially his putting.

And it’s a similar tale for 42-year old Harrington, who imperiously needs a victory to halt his slide down the world rankings and give himself a chance of regaining his place in the world’s biggest events.

The Dubliner opened with a bogey free, four under par 68 in the Turkish Airlines Open in Antalya, where he must finish in the Top 10 or risk failing to qualify for the season-ending DP World Tour Championship. On the other hand, as a reader pointed out this week, a first European Tour win since 2008 would catapult him back into the Top 50 in the world.

A fine putting performance in the recent BMW Masters in Shanghai, couple with some short game magic that was reminiscent of his old self, is excellent news for Ireland’s triple major champion.

Now ranked 111th in the world after missing the cut in 10 of 24 events where there was a cut to miss this year, it is ironic that he has found some balance in his game with the season drawing to an end.

Hard work on the short game and especially on the putting green led to him declaring in his blog this week that “my confidence is coming back.”

“I am very happy with my game,” he wrote. “My chipping and putting are really coming back to its best and my long game is very solid.

“In some ways I am unhappy that the season is coming to an end as I am very close to a big week.” 

Tellingly, he goes on to say: “However, I also know that I am in need of a break, I have played a lot over the years and it feels like it is catching up with me.”

Burning out - mentally more than physically - is now a factor for Harrington, who looks as fit as he has done in years.

Battling for Top 10s is anathema to him and it will be interesting to see how he performs should he put himself in position in Turkey.

“My game is good enough to win I just need to get back to giving myself chances to win again,” he wrote.

Harrington completed his delayed first round with a birdie four at the 18th, but at three under, he’s already three shots outside the top 10.

Damien McGrane shot a 70 and Shane Lowry a lacklustre 72 as Darren Fichardt and Thomas Bjorn posted eight under 64s to take the clubhouse lead.

Top draw Tiger Woods, meanwhile, shot a three under 69 that left him in the middle of the pack.