Padraig Harrington will tee off the new season this week with his worst world ranking for 12 years.
Ireland’s triple major winner, 40, slipped to 89th in the world as he prepared to make his seasonal debut alongside Darren Clarke and Michael Hoey in the €2 million Volvo Golf Champions at Fancourt in South Africa.
The Dublin ace hasn’t been ranked as poorly since he was world No 94 in August 1999 - 12 years and five months ago.
And while he’s hopeful that he can turn his game around with some new routines and a better mental game, he admits that telling the world about the numerous swing changes he has made since his 2008 US PGA win was not the best move of his career.
Asked if he had any regrets about the past three years, the former world No 3 told the Sunday Independent: “Yes. I should have kept my mouth shut. I shouldn’t have explained myself at any stage. That’s the big mistake I made.”
Harrington has made changes for years before the world got interested in his every move after he won his third major in 13 months three years ago.
He said: “My problem was that after 2008 I was being asked more about it, because of my higher profile. And I gave honest answers. I would have given the same answers in 2006 but the questions weren’t being asked.”
Harrington has been insisting for more than a year that his biggest problem is not his swing but his mental game.
Struggling to turn his excellent practice round form into tournament wins, he hopes that some pre-Christmas work with mental coach Jim Murphy and a potential partnership with Luke Donald’s performance guru Dave Alred can turn things around.
Harrington explained at the end of last season that his mental game had become stale. He’s lost his mental edge and needed to find a new key or new ways to stumulate his focus on the golf course.
“Establishing why the performances haven’t been as good over the last few years ultimately it comes down to the mental game not working quite as well,” he said. “Why the mental game isn’t working quite as well is the bit you have to sort out and it comes down to pushing too hard and trying too hard and that is it.
“I am just a little bit stale or I’ve lost a little bit of lustre or faith in that side of my game because of the fact that I put some much importance on it.”
Former rugby kicking coach Alred helped world No 1 Donald become a clinical performer on the course.
Hoping Alred he can do the same for him, Harrington told Dermot Gilleece: “Getting my practice form onto the course has been a problem for me, big time.”
The pair will work together for a fortnight when they meet up in Abu Dhabi next week.
Harrington explained: “He’ll become my practice coach, designing drills that will help me transfer my form in practice onto the golf course. So, if we work well together, Dave Alred will become part of my backroom team.”
Harrington will be making his first tournament appearance without sponsors FTI Consulting on his cap. The American firm decided not to renew his reputed $10m, three-year deal last December.
No replacement has been announced but Harrington could decide to publicise his association with Failte Ireland on his cap instead.