Brittle champion Padraig Harrington believes he’ll need some lucky numbers to avoid a painful KO in the 3 Irish Open.

Padraig Harrington in action at BaltrayThe triple major winner is struggling to get into scoring mode after spending endless hours fiddling to make his swing even better.

And he reckons he’ll need every rub of the green he can get to if he is to avoid taking a hammering at windlashed Baltray.

Yet to challenge for a win this year, Harrington said: “I am always hopeful going into any event. I know my game and like any player, if things go right, I am well capable of winning.

“Most weeks I prepare to make sure that if things don’t go right I am still there.

“But I haven’t had the luxury of preparing in that manner for this event that I can overcome not getting the breaks and overcome a lot of things going against me.

“This week I probably need a lot of things going in my favour to make it easier on me. I am not 100 percent yet. I am hopeful but I don’t need things going against me.”

Down to eighth in the world from a career high of third following his US PGA win nine months ago, Harrington makes no apologies for trying to improve his swing to become an even better player.

He said: “To be blatantly honest I don't want to play like I played last year. I want to play better — that's my nature. I don't think I would get out of bed in the morning unless I was trying to improve.

“Sometimes short term it's not the best thing, but I think the hardest thing is trying to stay still and if you do you're on a slippery slope to retirement.”

The reality is that he is without a top 10 finish since January but as he works to strengthen his weaknesses he is paying the price for weakening his strengths.

He confessed: “That's not a great idea when you're looking for performance in the short term. But it's not a bad idea for the long term.”

The Dubliner has chartered a chopper to make the 36-mile trip from his south Dublin home in just 16 minutes.

And given his erratic form, the leading Irish contender must be high flyer Rory McIlroy, who is teeing it up in just second Irish Open as a pro.

Seventh at Adare last year, the world No 19 believes he can turn on the style on links terrain despite the fact that he missed the cut in last week's Players Championship

After shooting a 61 at Royal Portrush four years ago and making the cut in the 2007 Open at Carnoustie, it’s a form of golf he loves.

He said: “It’s a great layout and you have to have all of the shots. It should be a great week.

"I have very fond memories of my first trip here with my dad. We stayed upstairs in the clubhouse and played snooker every night,

“It’s got great par threes but it also gives you an opportunity to score. The key is getting off to a good start with three par fives in the first six holes and you have to be two or three under through six because you have a difficult stretch from seven to 11."

Portrush native Graeme McDowell is another links specialist who hopes to shine in a field that features 23 Irishmen as well as star attraction John Daly, Ryder Cup stalwarts Lee Westwood, Soren Hansen, Oliver Wilson and Miguel Angel Jimenez.

McDowell said: "I feel like I slip back into the short game and creativity that links golf requires. Ball control is huge so I guess from that point of view it is a big advantage growing up on the north coast."