Harrington enjoys rub of the green after White House visit
Published 19/03/2010 | 05:00
GIVEN a decent lie-in after returning from Wednesday's flying visit to the White House at half past midnight, Padraig Harrington opened the Transitions Championship in Fort Lauderdale with a solid two-under-par 69 yesterday afternoon.
Harrington, who presented President Barack Obama with a set of left-handed Wilson clubs and a golf bag with the Seal of Office emblazoned on it, wielded his own irons with aplomb on the challenging 7,340-yard Copperhead Course, despite playing just one practice round.
After getting up-and-down capably for par on the first two holes, Harrington hit the next nine greens in regulation, eventually sinking a sensational 37-foot putt for eagle three at 11.
He followed that up by landing a birdie from the fringe rough at 12 with a deft flick of his 9-iron. Though his putter let him down at 13 and 17, where he missed from inside six feet for par, Harrington holed out from a greenside bunker at the last to finish four behind clubhouse leader Garrett Willis (36) from North Carolina, who shot 65.
It wasn't such a good day for Ian Poulter, however, who is in a fight to survive the halfway cut in his last Tour event before next month's Masters. The World Match Play champion managed only a two-over-par 73.
That was eight shots adrift of Willis, who led by two from fellow Americans Jeff Maggert, Jim Furyk, Jonathan Byrd and also defending champion Retief Goosen.
Poulter, who matched the best round of the week with a closing 64 at the WGC-CA Championship in Miami on Sunday, dropped a stroke on his opening hole and followed birdies at the 11th and 17th with a bogey each time.
Another shot then went on the 434-yard second after he pulled his approach long and left of the green.
The world No 6 plays in the unofficial Tavistock Cup -- a match between the Isleworth and Lake Nona clubs which this year will not feature Tiger Woods -- on Monday and Tuesday before taking two weeks off to prepare for Augusta.
Playing partner Sergio Garcia, who has gone nearly 18 months now without a win, also had to settle for a 73, as did Justin Rose, who is hoping to move into the world's top 50 in time for the US Masters at Augusta.
The Transitions Championship, Live, Sky Sports 2, 7.0