Brian Keogh in Miami

Being prepared, according to Cervantes, is half the victory. And if Padraig Harrington is going to win his tilt at the windmills of the major championships, the addition of an American base to his battleplan can only be a good thing.

As the 35-year-old Dubliner started his countdown to the Masters Tournament in three weeks' time with a practice round on the famed Blue Monster course at Doral, the venue for this week's WGC - CA Championship, he revealed that he has signed a four-year deal to represent the Irish-owned White Oak Plantation in North Carolina as its touring professional.

Harrington is building a home there too and the acquisition of an American base can only be positive as he spends more that third of the year in a country that hosts three of the four majors.

"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 which will open for play next year and feature around 750 homes.

For the moment, Harrington will continue to hop from one hotel to the other and this week he is concentrating on the build up to the season's first major at Augusta National by playing the $8 million WGC - CA Championship before heading to Texas for the Shell Houston Open and on to Georgia.

"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," Harrington explained before taking on the water-strewn Blue Monster course at the Doral Resort and Spa in Miami, where he finished tied for 26th in the now defunct Ford Championship last year.

"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.

The Dubliner plans to make his once upright swing a lot deeper and flatter over the next six months, eliminating a tendency to hit under the ball by coming in too steep.

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.

And while he does not want to peak too early for Augusta, he is not averse to the idea of contending for his first World Golf Championship title on a muscular 7,266 yard course that should be right up his street.

"All thoughts are on the Masters now," Harrington added. "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."

With world No 31 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.