Irishman Padraig Harrington isn’t take time for granted. The seasoned European Ryder Cup Captain will make the most out of his play at Omega Dubai Desert Classic, as he knows how valuable these eight months ahead are.
“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 Harrington.
But the three-time Major champion remains as pragmatic as ever.
“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, the I’ll stick at it. If not, it’s time to move on.”
He added: “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 was the 2001 Omega Dubai Desert Classic runner up. This year, he plays alongside Austria’s Matthias Schwab and France’s Antoine Rozner for the first two days.
This is also Harrington’s second year in a row at the Emirates Golf Club, but he doesn’t take his previous experience at the venue as a sure-sign of success.
“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.”
Meanwhile, defending champion Lucas Herbert of Australia is paired up with 25-year-old Justin Rose, the 2013 US Open champion, and past winner Rafa Cabrera Bello.
“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 Herbert.
“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.”
The Omega Dubai Desert Classic runs until January 31. It is invite-only but will be broadcast on sports networks; some exclusive content will be shared through social media.