Sport Golf

Saturday 25 March 2017

Harrington says patience is the key for Rory

Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

'Harrington (p) believes that Lowry needs to keep his passion, but get a little bit cuter about the words he might use when under stress on the golf course' Photo: Sportsfile
'Harrington (p) believes that Lowry needs to keep his passion, but get a little bit cuter about the words he might use when under stress on the golf course' Photo: Sportsfile

Pádraig Harrington has no fears about Rory McIlroy changing his putting grip just a few weeks away from the Masters.

McIlroy caused a big stir when he switched his putting grip to left hand below right for the WGC-Cadillac championship.

Inevitably, it put the spotlight on the world No 3's putting, but for Harrington, it's a storm in a teacup.

The three-time Major champion is home on a break before resuming on the PGA Tour at the Valspar Championship in Florida next week, and tips McIlroy to beat the putting blues.

"Changing the putting, his grip, guys do that. It's kind of a superficial change. It's not like he's changing his stroke.

"A change of grip can very easily give him a little bit of a boost, and a little bit of 'this feels good, this is working'.

"We all know that when he gets on a streak, he's a match for anyone with his putting," said Harrington.

The big challenge for McIlroy is staying patient.

Harrington acknowledges that it's not easily done, especially at the highest levels of the game and with the prowess possessed by McIlroy, but is confident about the eventual outcome.

"Rory has all the firepower in the long game. He just needs a good week on the greens.

"He's going to have four or five good weeks on the greens, regardless, so that's four or five wins, and that's a super year.

"If he won a Major a year, that would be incredible. All he has to do is putt well in one of the four Majors, and the best way of doing that is being patient with it," said Harrington.

The 20-year Tour veteran also had some advice for Shane Lowry, who fell foul of officialdom when berating himself for hitting a ball into water, using the 'F-word' to express his inner feelings.

Lowry was fined almost $5,000 and may have another fine added on for tweeting about the penalty, saying: "So I said a bad word, shoot me."

Passion

Harrington believes that Lowry needs to keep his passion, but get a little bit cuter about the words he might use when under stress on the golf course.

However, a tongue-in-cheek notion that Lowry could say 'feic', the Irish for 'look' or 'see', might not go down well with Tour mandarins.

"Shane is as Irish as could be and as normal as could be in that sense, and he doesn't want to change that. That's what's made him the golfer that he is.

"I don't see him hitting it in the water and going, 'Golly gosh, gee whizz', but he can find a different word that maybe for him will give him the same passion," said Harrington.

The Dubliner's own game has been good overall, but on a couple of Sundays, the last round has not matched Harrington's own expectations. To date, he has played seven tournaments on the PGA Tour schedule, six of them in January and February.

Harrington's best finish was tied sixth in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, and he has banked $341,125 dollars (€310,139).

Only one cut was missed, and that was in the Phoenix Open, but he felt frustrated enough after last Sunday's Honda Classic final round to have a chat with Dr Bob Rotella, his sports psychologist.

"When I look back at it, I think I was just being overly harsh on myself. Again, a lot of that is coming from expectations.

"I see good things. I see a lot less stress off the tee, which is nice, and that's leading me to believe, as I sometimes say, that I'm hitting all the unimportant shots very well at the moment.

"I would still like to hit the important ones just a little bit better," he said.

Pádraig Harrington is an Ambassador for the Flora ProActiv 21 Day Challenge to lower cholesterol. Check out FloraProActiv.ie

Irish Independent

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