European Ryder Cup Captain Padraig Harrington might have one eye on potential members of his team during this week’s OMEGA Dubai Desert Classic, but the Irishman remains as competitive as ever and is looking to add more trophies to his glittering cabinet.
“Obviously I’m 50 years of age this year and I’ll have to make a decision at that stage about where I’m going to play my golf, so I’ve been trying to be serious about my game and go out there and play as well as I can with the idea that if I can compete with these young guys, then I want to try to stay competing with them,” said the three-time Major champion.
“So, in the next eight or nine months, if I can contend to win a tournament or win a tournament, or if I feel like I have a chance of contending in a Major or win a Major, well, then I’ll stick at it. If not, it’s time to move on.
“It’s going to be a nice eight months for me, where I get to go out there and concentrate on the good stuff, whereas I often push things down the road and will say ‘I want to play well next year’. Well, I’ve got around eight months to prove myself, and that’s it.”
Harrington is teeing it up at Emirates Golf Club for the second successive year and is looking forward to the test that the famed Majlis course presents.
“You never quite know how you’re going to play on Thursday, you’ve just got to go out, play golf, hit your shots and see what comes of it,” said Harrington. “I’m experienced enough to know that no matter what whatever happens in practice – it can all be different when the competition starts.
“The 18th hole here is the iconic hole – it’s a big hole for the tournament where you can make an eagle to win or you can make a double bogey and miss out, so the tournament is never really over until the last putt drops.”
The Dubliner, who was runner-up at the 2001 OMEGA Dubai Desert Classic, plays alongside Matthias Schwab of Austria and France’s Antoine Rozner for the first two days.
This year’s defending champion, Lucas Herbert, is paired with fellow past winner Rafa Cabrera Bello and 2013 U.S. Open champion Justin Rose, and the 25-year-old is feeling good ahead of his title defence.
“My confidence has gone sky-high since I won here last year, and I felt like it could propel me through the rest of the season – I felt like I was a different golfer after winning,” said the Australian. “I feel like when I come out here on the European Tour that I’m definitely a good enough player to be able to win on any given week, and I feel like if I’m not contending, then there’s probably something not going right with my game.
“So I’ve got that inner confidence to know that that’s where I deserve to be every week, and it’s a nice feeling to come out here and have that.”
Attendance at the event is for invited guests only but the action will be beamed to a worldwide audience on mainstream broadcast sports networks and highlights and exclusive content will be shared on the OMEGA Dubai Desert Classic social media channels.