Harrington using Wales Open to build towards majors

Padraig Harrington insists patience is the key for him as he continues his US Open countdown by playing in the Wales Open at Celtic Manor this week.

Padraig Harrington insists patience is the key for him as he continues his US Open countdown by playing in the Wales Open at Celtic Manor this week.

The Open champion chose to miss last week’s BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth and add this event to his schedule because all his focus is now on the majors.

After rain shortened everybody’s practise on the course where the 2010 Ryder Cup will be staged – this is its first event – Harrington said: “I am very happy to be here with two goals in mind.

“The first one is to try and win the tournament and play my best. But I also realise that, as part of the bigger picture, the competitive rounds will help me build towards the US Open in two weeks’ time.

“It takes me at least two tournaments to get sharp and get focused. My game’s good, but right at the edge.

“I’ve had some solid performances during the year, a number of top fives, but I do need it to just tip over the edge and get that win.”

His last one remains that Carnoustie play-off against Sergio Garcia last July.

“The only way that is going to happen is with patience,” the Dubliner added.

“I’m not going to swing the club any better, I am not going to be physically any better, it is just a combination of things coming together in a given week and letting it happen.

“The ingredients are all there. I’m not standing here thinking ’God, I wish I was on the range hitting shots’.

“I have things to work on and things to practice, but I am not panicking about it, which is a sign that I am comfortable with the way my game is.”

At least Harrington has something of an advantage over those who took their first look at the course today and then were hauled off after only a few holes because of the conditions.

“That serves them right for not being professional and getting here early on a Tuesday to play their practice round,” stated Harrington with a smile.

“As much as I love practising the competition is better for me now in terms of getting sharp. It seems the only place I can really find that is when I have a card in my hand and have only one ball in play.

“I really like what they have done around the greens. They’ve cut a lot of rough away and there are plenty of run-offs so the ball spills off the greens and gives you plenty of options.

“It’s a lot more testing and brings more imagination to it compared to just putting heavy rough.

“Yes the course could do with more maturity, but that will happen. It will take a couple of years to work out the ideal set-up.”

Harrington is the highest-ranked player in the field at 12th in the world, but the central figures in last week’s European Tour flagship event are all straight back in action.

Miguel Angel Jimenez, now an almost certain member of this September’s Ryder Cup side, will be trying to make it two wins in a row, while Oliver Wilson would dearly love to put seven second places behind him with his first victory.

Robert Karlsson, meanwhile, will be fired up by the three putts from three feet that sent him from a possible play-off to a tie for third place on Sunday.

Also in the field are Colin Montgomerie, whose missed cut last Friday led to him being overtaken by Alastair Forsyth as top Scot in the world rankings, and English 20-year-old Danny Willett, making his professional debut after bowing out of the amateur scene as world number one.

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