Harrington looks to get edge on Rose

BRITISH Open champion Pádraig Harrington is hoping to put the disappointment of failing to retain the European Order of Merit title behind him and focus on coming out on top of a world-class field at the HSBC Champions in Shanghai.

The 36-year-old Irishman pipped Ryder Cup team-mate Paul Casey to win the 2006 Harry Vardon Trophy after a thrilling climax at the Volvo Masters, but was unable to repeat the feat at Valderrama this year after only managing an overall tie for fourth.

Harrington was pleased with his showing at the final event on the 2007 European Tour — despite admitting to losing focus during his one over par final round — and is now looking to get a head start on new Order of Merit holder Justin Rose at the Sheshan International Golf Club this week.

“I had a great week at Valderrama because I turned up at the event and performed on cue,” Harrington said.

“After coming very close on the Order of Merit last year, and this week being the first event of the 2008 Order of Merit, there’s a keen sense to get off to a good start and get going in the race.

“I’m a little jet-lagged, but I am well motivated for this week. Losing out last week has got me very keen to start well this year.

“I’ve played the course the last couple of years and I’m very familiar with it. There’s a bit more rough this year, but I think one round in the Pro-Am is enough in the context that I know it from previous years.”

Harrington is expected to take a break from the hectic European Tour schedule until the Abu Dhabi Masters in mid-January, and he will use the time to reflect on triumphant year.

“I have attempted to set new goals after the year I had by winning the Open Championship, but I think it will take the winter break before I fully focus on going forward,” he added.

The Open champion will partner world number 11 KJ Choi of Korea and South Africa’s Qatar Masters champion Retief Goosen in the first two rounds.

With world number one Tiger Woods skipping the event for the first time, world number two Phil Mickelson, World Matchplay champion Ernie Els, in-form US Open champion Angel Cabrera and three-time Major winner Vijay Singh headline an 89-strong field at the multi co-sanctioned event, which brings together champions and tour money leaders from across the globe, and features a cut for the first time in its brief three-year history.

Paul Casey, eight-time European Order of Merit winner Colin Montgomerie, French Open champion Graeme Storm, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter and Nick Dougherty have also earned places at the $5 million (€3.4m) event.

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