Apr
7
2011
Harrington Achieves Zen-like Plateau?
By Conor Nagle under The Masters

Tongue out: sign of a focused Harrington

Irish Golf Desk’s Brian Keogh has a really good interview with Padraig Harrington ahead of Thursday’s opening round. With two top-ten finishes in his last three events, the Irishman’s form seems to turning around at the right time. His performance in Houston last week was particularly heartening, if not entirely without moments of disequilibrium– drives occasionally struggled to find Shot-Tracker, let alone fairways. Harrington himself, however, sees his struggles of the last two years very much tapering to a close.

“I’ve done all I can, that’s my attitude… I’m happy with what I’ve done and where I’m at, where my game is at and where I’m going. All that sort of stuff.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to play your best week or anything like that, but I am comfortable with me… I agree the signs are good. They are, there’s no doubt about that. I am focused on a big week. Things are in a very good place now and going forward.”

With no new equipment in the bag or routines in place, Harrington has been working on processing the accumulated knowledge of nearly a decade’s worth of visits to Augusta National. Predictably, given his knack for rigorous self-analysis, his approach to the course strikes a balance between the philosophical and the scientific, general principles and hard data:

“I think Phil would like everybody to try and play his game. If we were to read the newspapers and believe that, I think he’d be very happy if everybody had to play as aggressively as him because he does it rather well.

“He has a valid point that, unlike other Majors, it is possible but not every year that you may have to play the back nine in four or five under par to win the tournament. That doesn’t happen in every other Major. If you play the back nine in level par, you’re gaining leaps and bounds.

“The golf course, how you set it up, the conditions, who you are competing against will determine how aggressive how you have to be but it is an interesting golf course for that one thing that, yes, sometimes this course will force you to be aggressive…

“I did all that work last year,” he said, proudly fishing out a yardage book containing hand drawn maps of the greens that are full of symbols and arrows, a lifetime of Augusta experiences in two dimensions.

“There’s the putts I’ve hit over the years, from all the different pin positions from all the different breaks,” he said, pointing to the hieroglyphics. “There’s a map of every green out there and all the different slopes. I have this one a few years – I transferred the information from the older one. Basically it’s all the putts I’ve hit over the years and how they react.”

Though he may not yet possess major-winning confidence in his most recent swing changes (those of last December), it seems that Harrington has, for the time being at least, succeeded in striking a truce with his own restlessness.

Conor