Masters is Harrington's long term goal

Brian Keogh in Los Angeles

Padraig Harrington tees it up at Rivera today with his sights firmly fixed on his preparations for the Masters rather than the Northern Trust Open.

And with new Ireland soccer boss Giovanni Trapattoni set to take charge of the national side, the Dubliner is hoping to have his first green jacket in the wardrobe before the Italian makes his debut at Croke Park on May 24.

Preparation is key for Harrington and like the FAI, he believes his painstaking approach will pay dividends in the long term.

The Open champion has just five events to get ready for Augusta in April and he is more focussed on bedding in a swing change and getting his equipment right than worrying too much about short term results.

"This is a two-month programme to get myself ready for the Masters and last week at Pebble Beach was reminder of all the stuff I have done over the winter and where it has got me,” he said at Riviera.

"There is a distinct difference between technical practice and tournament play and it showed up last week. I wasn't tournament sharp."

Tied for 14th at Pebble Beach, Harrington finished six shots outside a play-off for the title after playing the par-fives in five over par for the week.

But he is not overly concerned about that statistic and pointed out that he is working on a swing change that will make him a far more accurate player in the long run.

"Because I have been tinkering with my golf game, I haven't been as focussed on my focus and it caught up with me last week,” he said before teeing it up in thick fog in the pre-tournament pro-am

"I'm tinkering with my set up because my swing is changing. I am changing the lies to match the swing. All we are concentrating on at the moment is on what we need to do differently to the lies of the clubs.

"What I am trying to do is hold the ball off in flight. It is a lower spinning shot, held off, with a straighter flight - a bit like the way Monty played.

"If I had six months to go away and work on it, it would all be fine. But the fact that I have to play golf now interferes a little bit with that. But I am happy enough with the way things are going."

With visibility down to less than 100 yards at Riviera, Harrington took time out to comment on the Trapattoni appointment.

"The FAI would have been worse off if they had rushed things," he said. "Taking a long time to get the right person is better than rushing it and getting the wrong man.

"I'm a bit more optimistic about Ireland's chances in the near future. I think there has been a changing of the guard and that Brian Kerr and Steve Staunton were victims of change.

"There are enough good Irish players out there now and they can move forward even though they have ground to make up in terms of seedings."

Soccer was also a topic of conversation for defending champion Charles Howell, who is staying with a relative in snazzy Beverly Hills on the same street as David Beckham.

"I didn’t know it was his home until I saw the line of paparazzi," Howell said. "But there's cars lined up everywhere outside this house, all of these guys with cameras, I figured Tiger Woods lost his ball over there or somebody lived there, and come to find out it was David Beckham."