Harrington bemoans four-putt horrors as hopes falter
THE Padraig Harrington enigma at the Major championships continued at Olympic yesterday as his hopes of a stirring start to the US Open was stymied by some off-the-wall putting during a first-round 74.
Once a staple of his Major-winning feats, the marked decline in Harrington's putting was painfully clear on a cold grey morning.
"I had two four-putts and a three-putt, two stuffed chips on the edge of the green, which is a lot of shots to give away," he confessed.
"I don't think I've ever had two four-putts before. I got out of position and paid the price.
"I only had myself to blame, because the course is super, it's not playing that difficult," the Dubliner said of his four-over-par effort yesterday.
"It's set up very well, and is very playable. There weren't too many positives I can take away from that round."
Harrington started on nine and hit his opening three-wood into the right rough. After a splendid mid-iron approach to 14 feet, Harrington then missed the putt.
Harrington missed a five-foot par saver at 10, his second, and endured further frustration at 11 when he misread a 14-footer for birdie.
In fairness, Harrington looked like the three-time Major champion of old as he picked-up back-to-back birdies at 13, where he sank a facile three-footer, and out of the right fairway rough at 14.
Yet chickens don't get counted these days until he's safely back in the clubhouse.
And we found out why on the monster par-five 16th, still the longest hole in US Open history despite playing 660 yards yesterday, 10 yards short of its full length.
After ticking the first box and hitting his drive into mid-fairway, Harrington then pulled his three-wood into the left rough, his route to the green blocked by the magnificent old Monterey cypress and pine trees which adorn this course.
Harrington pitched out sideways, was just short of the green in four and, after chipping to 30 inches or less, somehow pushed the putt right of the cup.
Making a double-bogey seven from centre fairway, even on a hole as long as this, would have broken the resolve of many, but Harrington showed rare fighting qualities to bounce back once again with birdie four at 17.
Even his spirits must have been sapped, however, as he took four to get down from just off the green for a double-bogey six at Olympic's second hole.
He then hit his first putt off the front of the green on his way to a bogey five at seven.