Tuesday, 19 September 2017
Padraig Harrington on the green in Portugal  (Getty Images)
Padraig Harrington on the green in Portugal (Getty Images)

Padraig Harrington is relishing the opportunity to get the competitive juices flowing when he defends his title at this week's Portugal Masters.

The 46 year old prevailed from a thrilling final day at Dom Pedro Victoria Golf Course last season, holding off the challenge of Anders Hansen, Mikko Korhonen and Andy Sullivan to prevail by a single shot.

The Irishman was in contention again at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open in July until a third-round 79 blew him off course and he is convinced that he still has the killer instinct with the finish line in sight.

"I've been injured this year and for sure I lack a little bit of competitive play," he said. "There's a little bit too much practise going on for my on-course play so I've got to get my head around things, get a few things shut down in my head in order to be where I want it to be on Thursday morning.

"I know if I can start okay Thursday morning and I'm in with a chance on Sunday it's so much easier when you're under pressure, the focus is just that bit sharper."

His closing 65 in Vilamoura last term showed all the class of a three-time Major Championship winner as Harrington claimed a first European Tour win in eight years.

That was his 15th Tour win in total to go with numerous others worldwide and while his fourth-placed finish in Scotland shows he is still competitive against the young guns, he has never taken any of his victories for granted.

"Every win is important, they don't happen as often as you think they do," he added. "I enjoy my wins and I make sure I celebrate them when I do win.

"It was great to win, I get about one a year. You put a lot into them, there's a lot of weeks where you're frustrated, you've lost, you maybe messed up and got it wrong so when the wins come around you've got to make sure you do enjoy it and I take a lot from my wins."

It's so much easier when you're under pressure, the focus is just that bit sharper - Padraig Harrington

Harrington birdied the 17th to take a one-shot lead over Sullivan up the last in 2016 and after playing a safe shot clear of the water off the tee, he found some thick rough around the green with his second.

That would have presented the chance of a bogey to many players but the two-time Open winner chipped to four feet and claimed a title-sealing par, a route that was the plan all along.

"They were quite memorable," he said. "It was obviously a very tight and exciting event.

"I came down the last, I hit a conservative tee-shot away from the water and the rough and hit a smart shot with my second shot because I knew my short game was good. That's a huge part of my game, I live by my short game and it was strong all day so I was very comfortable to hit up the right-hand side and go for that chip and putt to win and it did work out very nicely."

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
1BJERREGAARD, LucasDEN18-20
2WARREN, MarcSCO18-16
T3STORM, GraemeENG18-15
T3PEPPERELL, EddieENG18-15
T5GOUVEIA, RicardoPOR18-14
T5LIMA, José-FilipePOR18-14

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