AFTER A WINTER spent making yet more major changes to his game, Pádraig Harrington started his season with a stunning display in at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship earlier.
The three-time major winner carded a flawless seven under 65 to hold an early one shot lead over Sweden’s Alexander Noren (66).
The Dubliner is two ahead of champion Martin Kaymer and England’s Robert Coles.
The round included a spot of good fortune on the long eighth – his 17th – when his chip for eagle hit the flag at speed and dropped in.
“It was a shock it went in at that pace,” he admitted honestly.
After months spent re-constructing his game with coach Bob Torrance, Harrington now has a new putting routine.
“The first putt of the day I was away with the fairies, but I made the most out of the round – another day that would have been 69,” he said.
One thing showed up in the States last year. I was about 156th in every putting category, so something needed to be done.
Rory McIlroy was next of the Irish after a dramatic start of par, eagle, birdie, bogey, bogey. US Open champion Graeme McDowell, Phil Mickelson and Darren Clarke were all level par through seven holes.