Sport Golf

Thursday 17 August 2017

Harrington back on course after hectic trek to Memorial

Padraig Harrington. Photo: Warren Little/Getty Images
Padraig Harrington. Photo: Warren Little/Getty Images

William S Callahan

Irish duo Padraig Harrington and Shane Lowry made solid starts to the Memorial Tournament hosted by Jack Nicklaus at Muirfield Village, Ohio yesterday.

Harrington, who had a hectic run of golf and travel since his return from a 13-week layoff due to a neck operation and rehab, carded a 71, one-under par.

The three-time Major champion almost holed from 25 feet at the last but the ball slipped past and he tapped in for a par.

"That would have been a bonus," Harrington said as he walked off the green.

Lowry got to two-under par after 10 holes, but fell back to level par 72 by the finish.

Both golfers had reason to be satisfied with their opening gambit on a tough course, where Major champions Dustin Johnson and Jason Day slumped to 78 and 75 respectively.

Jason Dufner, the 2013 US PGA champion, and 2015 Memorial champion David Lingmerth were tied at the top, both shooting 65 for seven-under par.

Jordan Spieth and Daniel Summerhays held joint-second place, both of them on 66. Harrington had a hectic build up. He was gutted to miss the cut in the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

Rehab

That was his first event since February due to neck surgery and a long rehab that kept him out of tournament play for 13 weeks.

He used his weekend to prepare for US Open qualifying at Walton Heath, then played the 36-hole sectional qualifier there last Monday before flying to the USA for the Memorial on Tuesday.

The Dubliner played the pro-am on Wednesday, then got an unexpected surprise - an invitation from PGA Tour officials to take a drug test.

The 'Golf by TourMiss' website quoted him as saying: "It is amazing as this is my first round back on the PGA Tour, and I have to go for a drugs test and when I have not been asked to undergo one for so long."

Harrington started at the 10th and reeled off nine straight pars. Two birdies and a bogey on his back nine gives him a platform to build on today.

Lowry, who finished tied-sixth in the BMW PGA championship last Sunday, also began on the back nine.

His opening nine yielded a birdie two at the par-3 12th, and a birdie four at the long 15th. Sandwiched between those positives was a bogey five at the 14th, his fifth hole where he got himself out of position off his drive.

A birdie on the first moved the Clara native to two-under for the day, but he dropped back to level with a brace of bogeys on holes three and four, his 12th and 13th.

Lowry bedded in from there, and limited the damage with par golf over his last five holes.

Paul Dunne, who earned his US Open debut via the Walton Heath qualifier on Monday, shot 78, five-over-par, in round one of the Nordea Masters at Barseback GC yesterday.

Italy's Renato Paratore and Max Orrin of England shared the lead on 68, four-under.

Nordea Masters

Live, Sky Sports 4, 10.0am/2.0pm

Memorial Tournament

Live, Sky Sports 4, 7.30pm

Irish Independent

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