From Brian Keogh in Miami
Padraig Harrington has signed a four-year deal to represent an American course as its touring professional.
The Dubliner, 35, will represent the partly Irish-owned White Oak Plantation in North Carolina and he revealed that he is building a house on the course which will serve as his US base when he plays on the PGA Tour.
“It looks like a top class facility - fantastic,” said Harrington of the 1,000 acre estate at Tryon near Charlotte, where a 7,300-yard Arnold Palmer designed “Premier Course” will open for play in autumn 2008.
“It's just an hour from Charlotte, which is a city I really like and I am building a house on it so that I will have a base here in the States during the year. It is a nice spot to go in between events and it is only about a two or three hour drive from Augusta.
“It is not really a place to go on my winter break - it is more with a view to using it during the season and the fact that it is not too far from Augusta is more of a co-incidence than anything else.
"They get lovely weather in the summer but in springtime and autumn it will be nice too. It will be a nice spot to have somewhere to practice in warm weather without it being excessively hot.”
Irish rally driver Austin McHale and Dublin businessman Leonard Kinsella are two of the main movers behind a development project that will feature around 750 homes.
For now, Harrington is concentrating on the build up to the Masters Tournament at Augusta National in three weeks' time.
His preparation begins in earnest this week with the $8 million WGC - CA Championship at Doral in Miami, where he will partner Phil Mickelson and Japan's Hideto Tanihara for the first two rounds, followed by a trip to Texas for the Shell Houston Open.
Winning a World Golf Championship event is near the top of Harrington's list of ambitions but he admits that his thoughts are firmly fixed on Augusta and the major he regards as "the ultimate test."
Harrington said: “All thoughts are on the Masters now. This is a big event but I think everyone’s thoughts are on Augusta. The key this week is to try and play well and if you get into contention there is added focus.
“It will certainly be a good test and I like the course. I shouldn't be peaking after a two-week break but I need to be peaking if I want to be up there.
"It’s a good week to hit it long and putt well because it’s a big hitter’s golf course and there are a couple of places where having a bit of extra distance will really help.
“The 16th is driveable and at 18, if you can can carry the water at 300 yards down the left, it’s an easy enough hole. If you can’t, it’s one of the tougher holes on tour.”
Mental strength is one of Harrington's fortes and that is the aspect of the game he will be concentrating on for the next three weeks.
He explained: “The next two weeks, going into Augusta, is going to be mostly mental and I had a three-hour session with Dr Bob Rotella this morning.
“At the end of the day, all I get from Bob is a reminder. But it is an important reminder and the reminder this week is to be disciplined enough to work on the right stuff.”
That means that Harrington will not be working a major swing change he insists will not be noticeable to the naked eye until the latter part of the season.
Instead he will be concentrating on his short game - wedges, bunker play and chipping - elements of the game which will be vital at the Masters.
With Justin Rose withdrawing yesterday due to a persistent back injury, 49 of the world’s top 50 are in the 73 strong field with the winner set to pick up a cheque for $1.35 million.