By Brian Keogh

Padraig Harrington has axed the Mission Hills World Cup from his schedule so that he can peak for the Masters.

The double Open champion played just seven events before this year's Masters, where he finished tied fifth.

But he plans to end his season in early November and come out earlier than ever next year to launch a concerted assault on the green jacket in 2009.

He said: "Normally I take my winter break through January and February. But this year the thinking might be to stop playing in early November and take that break in November and December .

"The thinking would be to have more of a regular season like the guys in the US, going away in the middle of November and taking the break earlier.

"This year I felt like I could have done with an extra event or two going into the Masters. So an earlier start next year is ideal."

A World Cup winner with Paul McGinley in 1997, Harrington skipped the event for the first time in 11 seasons last year, forcing Michael Hoey and Gareth Maybin to pre-qualify for Ireland.

Now the door is open for world No 29 Graeme McDowell to pick his partner for the event to be held at Mission Hills in China from November 27-30.

Harrington also confirmed that he will not be playing the PGA Tour's season-opening Mercedes-Benz Championship in Hawaii, he hopes to play one event in the Middle East before heading to the US for the AT&T Pro-Am at Pebble Beach and the Los Angeles Open.

As for the rest of this year's European Tour campaign, Harrington could yet change his plans to boost his chances of winning a second Order of Merit title.

Currently ranked fourth in the money list, he is debating whether he will skip the Portuguese Masters in favour of the clashing Grand Slam Of Golf in Bermuda from October 14-15.

He said: "The Portuguese masters is one I am committed to as I have a house down there now with Oceanico. It is a tournament I want to go down and play.

"But it is going to come up against the Grand Slam and I haven't clarified what I am going to do.

"I did enjoy the Grand Slam last year so I am not clear. The Order of Merit will be an issue with regard to which one I play.

"I only have five or six events left that count in the Order of Merit so adding one in could be important."