Padraig Harrington, sporting his ‘Movember’ moustache, and Race to Dubai winner Rory McIlroy during The 2012 UBS Hong Kong Open Photo Call at The Peak Tower in Hong Kong. (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)While Rory McIlroy is on top of the world after closing out his first European money title, Padraig Harrington admits he was driven to distraction as he missed the cut for the third year in a row in Singapore.

But while it remains to be seen how distracting Harrington’s Movember moustache proves to be for his playing partners in this week’s $2m UBS Hong Kong Open, the Dubliner refuses to be discouraged by his latest setback and feels he can contend at Fanling, where he claimed the title nearly nine years ago.

He was also tied for second in 2004 and while he finished a disappointing 51st behind Rory McIlroy last year, he insists the course is still one of his favourites.

“Hong Kong is one of the best venues of the year,” Harrington said. “It stands out as a great golf course for me, but I think everybody here this week loves the course.

“Sometimes you go to a place and half the field might like the course, whereas for the other half, it might not suit them. But this week everybody loves the course.”
Writing on his blog on Monday, Harrington reflected on his Singapore disappointment and explained that due to the fact that he had to lay up frequently off the tee, he couldn’t get the ball close to the hole.

In other words, he couldn’t hole a putt and he explained that he also struggled with his concentration.

He hopes that working on his routines with Dave Alred last weekend will pay off, explaining: “We got lots of work done on Saturday and then again on Sunday - it was quality work and the funny thing is that if I had made the cut I wouldn’t have been able to get it done. While I am never happy to miss a cut, I did get a lot of benefit out of missing this one.”
World Number One Rory McIlroy at The Peak Tower in Hong Kong ahead of his defence of the UBS Hong Kong Open title (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)Harrington will need a top four finish to get back into the world’s top 50 on Sunday. Yet all eyes will be on world No 1 McIlroy in Hong Kong as he makes his first appearance as winner of the 2012 Race to Dubai.

The defending champion has an incredible record at Fanling, finishing second in 2008 and 2009 and sixth in 2010 before finally winning last year.

Ahead of the defence, he was joined by four-time US PGA Tour winner Matt Kuchar and a major champions Harrington, Paul Lawrie and YE Yang for a press conference and photo call at The Peak Tower in Hong Kong.  
“Hong Kong has always been a place I’ve enjoyed coming to,” said McIlroy. “It’s always got a great buzz, a great atmosphere, and there is just something about Fanling and the Hong Kong Golf Club that I really enjoy.

“This week will be extra special after wrapping up the Race to Dubai last week in Singapore, and I can’t wait to tee up as the defending champion this week.”