Friday, 19 March 2010
Open de France - Previews  (Getty Images)
Open de France - Previews (Getty Images)

Padraig Harrington admits he needs a good performance at the Open de France ALSTOM this week after some below par displays in recent weeks.

The Irishman will look to win a third consecutive Open Championship later this month but the three time Major winner has missed the halfway cut in his last four events.

“This is a great event, and a great golf course – the French Federation do a great job here with this tournament and I am delighted that the tournament fits into my schedule this year,” said Harrington.

"If I'm going to play well in The Open it's got to start now - I'm running out of time. I'm always optimistic and I still believe I am going to be ready. But, then again, I thought I would be ready for the US Open."

That was Harrington's last tournament and he had two rounds of 76 at Bethpage to miss out on the weekend by eight shots.

Because of his triumphs at Carnoustie, Birkdale and Oakland Hills Harrington still finds himself joint second favourite - behind Tiger Woods, of course - for Turnberry.

But it is a demonstration of where he is at right now that he is only joint fourth favourite for this week behind Ryder Cup team-mates Ian Poulter, runner-up to him last July, Lee Westwood and Søren Hansen.

Without a top ten finish since January Harrington ranks an incredible 195th out of 212 in driving accuracy on The European Tour this season.

"I'm still trying to find the magic stick that goes straight and long," he commented. "Aren't we all?"

He has been experimenting with different drivers and gives no guarantee that the one he settles on for the opening round is the one he will stick with.

Three days were spent with coach Bob Torrance last week, but the work was not only to bed in the changes as much as possible.

"At the US Open my backswing had totally gone off. We were not trying to change that, but I was focusing so much on my downswing.

"Last week we were doing a lot of covering of old stuff, putting things back in position.

"For my preparations to be spot-on I should not be tinkering with my swing. I am well capable of winning when I have not prepared properly, but it reduces the chances."

Harrington also defends his Irish PGA title next week before heading to Scotland and of the two tournaments he states: "It's more important that I play well (in terms of ball-striking) rather than perform well (in terms of his results).

"I do need these two weeks to show myself some form. Having not performed very well I need a certain level of confidence going into The Open and it's important I show signs of having control over the ball.

"I'd like to score well too, but other things can affect that. I don't need the results, but I do need to play well."

Long term, however, the 37 year old is excited about the prospects of adding to his three majors.

"I've never been more enthusiastic or more positive about my game going forward.

"It's still not bedded in and I will not be going to the first tee here with it automatic, but I'm thrilled with what I see when it's good.

"I'm always trying to improve and sometimes there are short-term sacrifices for long-term gains."

Poulter, on the other hand, feels he has everything in place for his attempt to go one better than last year.

Except for one thing, that is. Having based himself in Florida for the first half of the year he returned to the heat of Britain last week wishing he had had air-conditioning installed in his home.

This is his first tournament in Europe since the Volvo Masters almost eight months ago.

He has not won in that time, but did have another notable second place behind Henrik Stenson at the Players Championship in May and has risen to 16th in the World Rankings.

That is only five places behind the sliding Harrington. This time last year there were 28 spots between them.

“It’s a great golf course and a golf course that I have done well on in the past. We have a strong field, a big prize fund and a great course so it should hopefully be a good week,” said Poulter.

"I had my eyes fixed in January (he had an astigmatism and was having a problem in fading light) and just before The Masters my wrist was sorted (he had a cyst).

"I also think that mentally I'm better than I was heading to Birkdale - and I had some putting issues at the start of the week there. I wore a hole in the practice green."

Like Westwood, Colin Montgomerie, the Masters Tournament champion Angel Cabrera and John Daly next week's Barclays Scottish Open is also on his schedule.

This week’s winner stands to make €666,660 – Spain’s Miguel Angel Jiménez would love to mark his 500th European Tour event by claiming that.

 

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
T1WESTWOOD, LeeENG18-13
T1KAYMER, MartinGER18-13
3POULTER, IanENG18-10
T4HANSEN, AndersDEN18-9
T4HANSON, PeterSWE18-9
T6HANSEN, SorenDEN18-8
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