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Published: Thursday January 31, 2013 MYT 10:56:00 AM

Ireland's Harrington sees putts through new eyes

SCOTTSDALE (Arizona): Three-time major champion Padraig Harrington was seeing putts through fresher eyes as the 41-year-old Irishman prepared for Thursday's start of the US$6.2mil US PGA Phoenix Open.

Harrington said that eyesight issues stole some of his confidence in reading putts but after four laser surgeries and armed with a host of new eyeglasses, he approaches the greens with renewed optimism.

"I lost my confidence in reading the greens essentially, so it was pretty easy to figure out that it was my eyesight," Harrington said.

"I really did lose my confidence last year. That was essentially it. I second-guessed a lot of reads and ultimately then hit a lot of tentative putts.

"I spent a good bit of the season working on my putting stroke, trying to fix the tentative putts, but the tentative putts were really coming from just my lack of commitment and doubt of my reading of the greens."

Harrington ditched one pair of glasses after two hours at an event in South Africa and was dubious about a pair that he had been wearing for practice rounds in the Arizona desert, mainly to reduce eye fatigue.

"I started hitting wedges on the range and I could have been sowing potatoes after a while in the divots I was taking," Harrington said.

"I have 20/20 vision. I'm perfectly fine in terms of what I can see. These make it better, but really I have astigmatism like a lot of people.

"My eyes have changed. I was used to it for 20 years of my life having a right-to-left bias. Now I have a little bit of a left-to-right bias. I just have to work on it and get on with it.

"Certainly I didn't putt very well last year and I needed to do something about it. So far, so good."

Harrington, the 2007 and 2008 British Open champion and 2008 PGA Championship winner, is in his 19th pro season but making his first trip to Phoenix, where rowdy crowds are a trademark.

"I knew I was coming to a desert golf course and the front nine doesn't quite look like that. There's quite a lot of trees in the desert," he said." If you do go into that desert, it doesn't seem to stop running into it and finishes in a cactus."

Harrington is using the event as a tuenup ahead of PGA events at Pebble Beach and Riviera the next two weeks.

"I always feel when I get to these events like I wish I played a little bit more coming into it, I wish I had one more tournament under my belt," he said. - AFP

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