Sport Golf

Saturday 29 April 2017

Harrington 'getting towards best form'

Padraig Harrington hits his third shot on the first hole from a bunker during the final round of the Transitions Championship in Tampa. Photo: Getty Images
Padraig Harrington hits his third shot on the first hole from a bunker during the final round of the Transitions Championship in Tampa. Photo: Getty Images

Brian Keogh

Peaking at the right time is what separates the champions from the also-rans and Padraig Harrington will be happy he's still got the Shell Houston Open to play as he counts down to the US Masters.

Having notched the best result of his career on the Blue Monster with a share of third place in the WGC-CA Championship at Doral last week, the Dubliner added the Transitions Championship to his schedule in an effort to knock some rust off his game before the season's first Major at Augusta National.

The first two days could not have gone much better for the world No 10, who opened with a battling 68 and then took advantage of some scintillating iron play to post a six-under-par 65 on Friday and take a one stroke lead into the weekend.

And, although Harrington failed to build on his start, slipping back to six-under after a final round of 72, his recent form has been promising.

"My father always told me as a kid, if you can't win, play well five months of the year; make sure you play well mid-season," Harrington said recently.

"If you're going to pick a time to play well, play well through the four Majors.

"If you do look back, guys who are winning December and January don't normally have good summers.

"When you spend your winter working on things, it does take a while to get everything back together again. I'll be happy if I hit peak form from the Masters through to the Ryder Cup. That means you're going to have a successful year."

Harrington went into the third round of the Transitions Championship with high hopes of building a lead that would see him end a 19-month victory drought that dates back to his 2008 US PGA victory at Oakland Hills.

But he carded a disappointing one-over-par 72 on Saturday to fall four strokes behind Jim Furyk, who was chasing his first PGA Tour win for nearly three years. That hiccup was hardly a surprise to the Irish star, who knows that he is still a few weeks short of finding his best stuff.

"I'm capable of winning in the form I'm in," he said after his 65. "Am I in my best form? No. Am I getting there? Yes.

"I'm kind of in the form that I was in at the end of last year -- I'm happy that I've got another weekend of golf here and another tournament before Augusta, let's say."

Having struggled to hole putts in the third round, Harrington knew that he faced a tough task to close a four stroke gap on Furyk in last night's final round.

"I don't want to give Jim a four-shot lead over a four-round tournament, let alone one round," Harrington confessed on Saturday.

Pressure

"There's enough guys behind that somebody is going to shoot a good score and put some pressure on him. Hopefully it's me."

As it turned out it was KJ Choi and not Harrington who was chasing Furyk down the stretch over the fearsome Copperhead course at Innisbrook.

Harrington birdied the first before thunderstorms forced a four hour delay and when he resumed his challenge, the Dubliner never threatened the lead.

Wayward off the tee and struggling with to judge the pace of the greens, he bogeyed the third and sixth to turn for home six strokes behind Furyk and KJ Choi.

Furyk edged two shots clear of the Korean on 14-under with eight to play but while Harrington birdied the 10th to get back to level for the day, he drove into water at the 12th and bogeyed to slip eight shots behind on six under.

Irish Independent

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