Padraig Harrington (Getty Images)
Three-time Major winner Padraig Harrington must overcome “a curveball” this week at the Maybank Malaysian Open, a tournament he is relishing playing again after a seven year break.
The Irishman’s driver broke last week and finding a replacement is proving tricky, which is a problem he could do without with only three weeks to go until the season’s first Major Championship, the Masters Tournament.
The 41 year old would love nothing more than to fix the problem at the magnificent Kuala Lumpur Golf and Country Club, explaining: “I was very, very comfortable with the old driver, so having to get used to a new one always causes a little bit of anxiety.
“I was quite confident with where I was at. But obviously when you put a new club in, it takes a bit of time to understand it and you’re not quite sure how it’s going to go.
“I used a new driver last Sunday and it was okay on the range but not on the course. Often you find that you take a club on the range and think it works nicely, but when you take it out on the course it has a shot in it you didn’t see on the range because of the different tempo or speed on the course.
“So it’s thrown a bit of a curveball in my preparations and I’d dearly love to drive it well this week so that I have that confidence. I don’t want to go home next week still looking for a driver and then possibly play in another tournament where I’m in doubt. The last thing I want is to be going to the Masters with any doubt.”
Driver issues aside, Harrington is delighted to return to the Malaysian capital for an event he believes has gone from strength to strength in the last few years.
“Kuala Lumpur is one of the best cities in the world, no doubt about it,” he said. “There’s a good feel about it and the golf course is excellent. They’ve revamped it and it really is an exciting layout. There’s a lot of water and you have to position your tee shots. You have to be aggressive and go after birdies, even though there is plenty of danger out there.
“Maybank do a fantastic job at putting on a great event, so I’m delighted to be back.
“They’ve done an excellent job at attracting some big players. We’re playing on an exciting golf course, so it lends itself to a big tournament feel and exciting event.
“It should be a great spectacle on TV and a great show for the fans to come to. You have to credit Maybank for this, because their drive for the tournament, their work behind the scenes and what they are prepared to invest, is fantastic.
“They put up the prize money, but that’s just a small part of what they do for this tournament. They’ve done a tremendous job at creating a top class event.”
World Number Three Luke Donald is also in the field for the US$2.75million event, as is 2011 Masters Champion Charl Schwartzel, Italian Matteo Manassero, who won the title here in 2011, and last week’s winner of the Avantha Masters, Thomas Aiken.