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January 30 2013

10:21 AM

Harrington debuts with glasses

By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Padraig Harrington is the inveterate tinkerer. In fact, the Irishman says he would have given up golf a long time ago if he couldn't make changes to his game.

"The only thing I know is to keep evolving," Harrington explained.

The most recent offseason saw him consult a team of eye specialists because he lost confidence in his ability to read greens. Harrington started second-guess himself and become tentative, as a result.

The stats show perception was reality. He ranked 107th in strokes-gained putting on TOUR last year down from 46th in 2011, 47th in '10 and 25th in 2009.

So Harrington, who has had four laser surgeries, came to Arizona to make his 2013 PGA TOUR debut at the Waste Management Phoenix Open sporting glasses that he says have given him better than 20-20 vision. The tournament is the first of four straight for him.

"I'm perfectly fine in terms of what I can see," Harrington said. "These make it better, but really I have astigmatism like a lot of people. I grew up with a bias to reading putts right to left, so if I saw an eight-foot putt that was straight, as a kid, I'd aim right half. That's where I would see it.
 
"For the last number of years, if I saw that same eight-footer, I'd actually look at it left half. Now, that's just how 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."

Hence, the glasses, two different pairs, in fact, which he says also help reduce eye fatigue. Harrington likely won't wear them in competition, although one pair did make it through his practice round on Tuesday at TPC Scottsdale.

Then Harrington, who says his eyes are likely too dry for contact lenses, went to the range and started hitting wedges. "I could have been sowing potatoes after a while in the divots I was taking," he said with a wry smile.

Harrington has also been doing various eye exercises. He's changed his putting routine, as well. 

"It's kind of the way these days," he said. "You know, you're looking for specialists in every area of the game, whether it's short game specialists, putting, long game coach, psychology, everything is par for the modern game, and this is just I suppose another little addition. We'll wait and see how it goes.
 
"But certainly I didn't putt very well last year, and I needed to do something about it. So far, so good."

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