Harrington raises the bar on his performance

Padraig Harrington, a logical favourite for the Abu Dhabi Championship, looked as though he was capable of fulfilling those expectations in the first eight holes of the final round.

Padraig Harrington made a splendid recovery after a poor one under on the opening day.
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ABU DHABI // Padraig Harrington, winner of the last two majors and a logical favourite here, looked as though he was capable of fulfilling those expectations when he improved his score by five strokes in the first eight holes of the final round. The Irishman, 16 under par at that stage, finished the round with only one shot lesser and eventually settle for a share of fifth place.

However, Harrington chose to see it as good preparation to improve his prospects. "I'm pleased with what I saw out there," he said. "I've got two weeks now to work on some of the things I've seen and then I will try to get myself into competitive mode." If Harrington did not regard himself in competitive mode yet, then it augured well for the coming year. After a battling 71 in Thursday's opening round he shot two 66s and a 68 and made a good job of hiding what he insisted are inadequacies in his game after his winter break.

"I've scored well but my scores have flattered me, considering the way I have played here," he remarked. "I did not expect to shoot 17 under par. If you had offered me 12 under at the start I would have sat in the clubhouse feeling very happy at the end. "I thought 12 under had a chance because the rough was heavy out there but so many players have had good scores. "But we were not predicting the greens to be as soft as they have been [they were waterlogged on the first morning of the tournament] and we didn't expect there to be so little wind."

Harrington believes Abu Dhabi is the ideal place to hone your game for the new season. "Players coming here see it as a two-fold opportunity," he said. "We get perfect conditions to play golf in but we also get perfect conditions for practising if we are not in our best form. "You don't want to be going anywhere at this time of the year where conditions are going to be less than perfect because this is the time when you have to put in a lot of work on your game."