Wentworth may not be the best place for Pádraig Harrington to build on his positive week in the HP Byron Nelson Championship, but the Dubliner has lots of reasons to look forward to a big summer — his short game is back and he's got a "go to" shot that's simplifying his thinking.
That he hit just three fairways in the final round in Texas and ended up slipping to 22nd may have more to do with lack of match fitness when it comes to contending on Sundays than his tactic of playing for a draw on almost every shot.
But in limiting his normally gruelling range sessions and concentrating on his short game in order to be fresh, he's received a confidence boost when it comes to the area of his game that's been letting him down for several years now — chipping and putting.
"Last week was a big improvement on my previous performances this year in the US," Harrington wrote on his blog. "Even though my last round was a poor one the three rounds before it were good. There were a lot of positives from the week - I shot three rounds in the 60s, I got myself into contention on Sunday, but for me the most important thing was that my short game was good. I chipped and putted well all week and this was been something that I have struggled with all year. It has hampered my scoring ability, as when I missed a green it tended to lead to a bogey.
"Last week I continued with my plan from the Wells Fargo Championship of reducing the amount of practice that I have been doing. I have given it a lot of thought and felt that I have been wearing myself out on the range and as a result I haven't been fresh when I got onto the course. Over the years I have scored my best when I am mentally fresh and so last week I did very little long game practice.
"I pretty much warmed up each day, played and then after my round I would hit some wedges and then chip and putt. I would put this down to a big reason behind my improved short game performance - the combination of not being tired and also the fact that the practice I did was better quality. This was the first week all year that I was positive on the “strokes gained” putting stat for the week. Even in my last round I felt that I putted well, bar one three putt.
"Another thing that I did last week which was different was that I decided to hit one shape of shot. For the last number of years I haven't really had a “go to” shape, so last week I decided to hit a draw unless the shot dictated otherwise. This made things so much simpler, so every time I stood up to a shot I knew exactly what I was hitting, I aimed a little right of the pin and then drew it in which simplified most shots for me. I did suffer a little during the week of not trusting that it would come back or feeling that it would move too much on the wind but I would expect that in the first week of implementing it. Once I stick to it I know it will become more comfortable.
"Sunday was a disappointing round for me as I played quite poorly, in actual fact I felt that I did well to shoot the score I did. I struggled to hit fairways and it made it very hard playing from the rough. A lot of it came down to trusting the draw, however I chipped and putted well bar one mishap on the 10th where I three putted from 15 feet. In the end it was disappointing to finish where I did when I had a chance of winning going out. As it turned out I would have needed to shoot a very low one to win, but it was good to be in the he mix again was it has been a while since I was there.
"All in all there were a lot of positive to take away from the week. My short game was much improved, I made plenty of birdies and I really liked the idea of one shape of shot. I will continue with what I was doing this week and hopefully keep this form going at Wentworth. I am heading there feeling good about things after what I saw last week."