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Pádraig ready to conquer Augusta

PADRAIG HARRINGTON was smiling yesterday after he broke par in the opening round of the Masters for only the third time in 13 starts at Augusta National.

The triple major winner, who has missed the cut in his last two appearances in the Masters, eagled the par-five second on the way to a one-under-par 71 on the rain-softened layout.

"I'm pleased," Harrington said after also recording two birdies and three bogeys. "There are few players burning it up."

Harrington, whose best Masters finishes were ties for fifth in 2002 and 2008, was especially pleased with his putting on Augusta's notorious greens.

"I made a few changes this week, and I was very happy," the 40-year-old said.

"It looks like I turned a bit of a corner with the putting and I've been playing very nicely besides that. I didn't play as well today, but hopefully over the next few days I'll put the two together."

Harrington, who has not triumphed anywhere since his golden 2008 campaign which featured victories at the British Open and PGA Championship, oozed confidence after his opening round.

"I'm very relaxed," he said. "My whole game is good, and I'll just play away and see what the result is."

Harrington is level with Rory McIlroy at one under, four behind leader Lee Westwood, with Darren Clarke one over and Graeme McDowell three over.

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