Sport Golf

Saturday 21 October 2017

Harrington battles through the pain

Golf

Padraig Harrington lines up a putt on the 18th hole during the first round of the Portugal Masters yesterday
Padraig Harrington lines up a putt on the 18th hole during the first round of the Portugal Masters yesterday

Bernie McGuire

Torn tendons on the top of his left foot was not the only pain for Padraig Harrington on the opening day of the Portugal Masters at Vilamoura as the Dubliner left the course feeling a few shots had got away.

Harrington signed for a five-under-par 67 to be trailing just three strokes behind South African James Kingston.

Six players, including Ballyclare's Gareth Maybin and Denmark's Thomas Bjorn who has won three times this year, are tied in second place at seven-under.

Harrington's round featured eight birdies but also three bogeys, including two in between four birdies over the first six holes of his inward nine on the Victoria course.

The triple Major champion had injured his foot in the gym on Tuesday and had further treatment yesterday morning before taking to the course.

Harrington also put on a well-worn pair of golf shoes, rather than the brand new footwear he had to remove from his aching foot during Wednesday's Pro-Am.

"I've been advised I tore a couple of tendons on top of my foot but with the bandages I've got on, it was fine today," he said.

"Also the shoes I'm wearing today are a lot softer whereas the ones I was wearing yesterday were a more snug fit. But as long as I am not walking, I'm fine."

However, bogeys at his third, 11th and 13th proved very uncomfortable for the world No 78.

Harrington complained of losing patience on a course where the winning total has averaged 20-under par for the four years of the event.

"With this tournament being about 20-under par plus, it puts you under a lot of pressure and certainly if I was not thinking of 20-under then I would have shot better than I did," he said.

"I struggled to stay patient given the ideal conditions and that cost me, as I made three bogeys where you should be making birdies.

"The nature of this golf course has you thinking you should birdie every hole and you're taking on shots.

"So I was just pushing too hard, so I was just going too gung-ho."

Maybin's effort matches a similar 65 on the first day of April's China Open -- it was an equal second best of the season.

"Anytime you shoot 65 is a great start, but all I am doing is taking each round as it comes," the Dubliner added.

Gary Murphy made the most of his invitation to join Harrington and Peter Lawrie with a 67.

Murphy is contesting only his sixth 'Race To Dubai' event this season and delighted in not dropping a stroke.

Shane Lowry and Damien McGrane recorded 69s, while Paul McGinley was the only Irishman to struggle in carding a 74.

Recent Alfred Dunhill Links champion Michael Hoey will return to competition next week at Castellon after being struck down by illness last weekend that forced him to withdraw from this week's event in Portugal.

Portugal Masters,

Live, Sky Sports 2/3, 11.30 & 4.0

Irish Independent

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