Sport Golf

Thursday 23 March 2017

Harrington loses an 'old friend' as new swing fails to fire in Austria

William S Callahan

A miserable first-round 75 by Padraig Harrington at the Austrian Open was due more to the loss of an 'old friend' than the Dubliner's new swing.

The face caved in on Harrington's faithful five-wood in practice, the club he used to play the 2008 'Shot of the Year' into 17 at Royal Birkdale to set up the eagle which won the British Open.

Harrington certainly had no luck with the replacement. "It cost me four shots," he said. "I hit it in the water twice."

The Dubliner made a flying start to his first tournament in Austria, speeding to two-under as he landed back-to-back birdies on the sixth and seventh.

However, his day turned sour as he bogeyed nine, 10 and 11. Harrington then completed his back nine in four-over-par 40, including a double-bogey six at 16.

"It was unfortunate to break my five-wood and it was a pity to finish badly as well, especially after playing the first eight holes in two-under and putting myself in a good position.

Careless

"I hit a kind of a careless shot at 16. I wasn't quite sure where I was aiming because I didn't really know the hole. It was a pity because I was happy with how I hit the ball."

Harrington had been hoping to bed in swing changes new coach Pete Cowen recommended. He is hoping the replica five-wood delivered yesterday will give him a chance of making the cut.

He plans to bring home his broken old five-wood, saying: "No club has been in my bag for longer. It's been there a good while now and I'll have it forever."

Harrington was tied with fellow Irishmen Jonathan Caldwell and Michael McGeady on three-over, nine strokes off the pace set by popular Welsh journeyman and Q-school graduate Liam Bond.

Recent Walker Cup-winner Paul Cutler had just one birdie on his card as he marked his first round as a professional on Tour with a 77. Gary Murphy shot 72 to share 29th, while Damien McGrane opened with a 74.

Meanwhile, Rory McIlroy has signed a £10m (€11.4m) sponsorship deal with Santander.

•KEEGAN BRADLEY stormed into the early lead in the first round of the Tour Championship in Atlanta yesterday.

The in-form American fired seven birdies in a sizzling six-under-par 64, his only concession coming courtesy of a bogey five at the eighth.

Jason Dufner was two shots behind the early pacesetter after a 66, with a couple more Americans, Charles Howell III and Hunter Mahan, as well as Australian Adam Scott, a shot further back.

The Tour Championship,

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