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Harrington employs Jonny Wilkinson's coach

Irishman hopes to get a kick out of the man who has glowing references from Given, James and Schwartzer

Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Starting in Abu Dhabi, Padraig Harrington has employed the services of Jonny Wilkinson's kicking coach Dave Alred in the hope of getting a better handle on high pressure situations in 2012.

Glowingly referred by last year's double money-list champion Luke Donald, Alred can also boast testimonials from goalkeepers Shay Given, David James and Mark Schwartzer. But so in demand is the man the former England Rugby coach Clive Woodward swears by, that Harrington has had to wait six months just to get an appointment.

The 40-year-old Dubliner will now have to play ‘the mistress' role to Alred's main golf client Donald.

Harrington, who was disqualified while in the lead at last year's Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship for marking his card a stroke low, after a TV viewer rang in to report the slightest of oscillations on the ball, said of Alred: "He's very hands-on. If I was trying to pigeonhole him into one specific job, you know I'd say he's a practice coach. He's monitoring what I do in practice, how I practise, and we are trying to get the biggest transfer from the practice round to the golf course.

‘More precision'

"All through last year, I felt I played well in practice and just never took it to the course. We time the practice, we count the balls. He's really putting a lot more precision into training.

"He obviously crosses the line to a number of other elements through his own experience. But I suppose at the top of his CV he watches that you do the right thing when you're practising and you don't get loose."

After missing the cut at the Irish Open last year, Harrington drove 384 miles from Killarney to Dublin to meet Alred, who was working with Leinster out-half Johnny Sexton. "The first time I could get an appointment with him was this date, this week [in Abu Dhabi]. So it's taken six months. It's been worth the wait. It's been really interesting. He's certainly been very generous. He's working with everyone on my team. Luke's always going to be Dave's first choice in golf. But I'm happy to play the mistress in this situation. He's a busy man and he's good at what he does."