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Harrington hopes to outshine Woods

The first appearance by Tiger Woods in America this year has inevitably dominated the build-up to the AT&T National Pro-am at Pebble Beach this week.

But the importance of Padraig Harrington's first appearance there since last September should not be overlooked. The 40-year-old Dubliner, who has slipped to 93rd in the world, has turned to mental coach Dave Alred - the man who has linked up with world number one Luke Donald and rugby star Jonny Wilkinson - to help him.

They worked together for the first time in Abu Dhabi a fortnight ago, and Harrington said: "Prior to the week I was excited at the prospect of what he would bring to the table, but also a little apprehensive. Now that week one is over I am very excited about working with him and I can't wait to get to see him again."

He added: "I was asked about what he does. The best way I could explain it was that he doesn't have new answers or questions, he merely asks the same questions but in a different way.

"He observed what I do and then gave his thoughts on how I could do it better.

"He has totally changed the way I will practice by giving it more meaning. The changes will have a huge effect for the rest of the year."

Woods has finished third, first and third on his last three starts, but at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship two weeks ago was tied for the lead with Robert Rock with a round to go and fell back with a closing 72.

"Even though I lost I was very pleased," he said. "That was my bad day of ball-striking and it wasn't that bad.

"It wasn't that big a deal. If I can have that as my bad ball-striking day then we're looking pretty good.

"I'm excited about that. The previous three days were very good."

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