Saturday 10 December 2016

Harrington's mojo takes a battering as Holmes makes it look elementary

William S Callahan

Published 06/04/2015 | 02:30

Padraig Harrington, of Ireland, watches his tee shot on the third hole during the third round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament in Orlando, Fla., Saturday, March 21, 2015. (AP Photo/Reinhold Matay)
Padraig Harrington, of Ireland, watches his tee shot on the third hole during the third round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament in Orlando, Fla., Saturday, March 21, 2015. (AP Photo/Reinhold Matay)

IT hardly counted as a dream send-off for Padraig Harrington before his return this week to the Masters.

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In fact, the Dubliner had a weekend to forget at the Shell Houston Open, with his performance at Redstone doing little to boost his mojo as he headed for Augusta National and, arguably, the most challenging greens in golf.

Harrington's morale-boosting victory at last month's Honda Classic ensured the 43-year-old Dubliner would return to Augusta after missing out last April for the first time since his Masters debut in 2000.

He appeared to be headed for another big weekend in Houston on Saturday as he bobbed within hailing distance of the tournament lead on nine-under with only five holes of his third round to play.

SOUR

Then it all went sour as a triple-bogey seven at five, his 14th hole, was followed by a bogey at six and a double-bogey at the par-five eighth for a two-over 74.

There was little relief for the three-times Major winner yesterday as he signed-off with another 74 and tumbled into a three-way tie for third-last, two ahead of Matt Kuchar and four clear of another US Ryder Cup star, Rickie Fowler.

Harrington worked with putting guru Paul Hurrion early in the week at Houston. It yielded an instant dividend when he one-putted his first five greens last Thursday, totalling 72 feet. In all, he counted 28 putts, including a solitary three-putt on 14, in his first round 71.

Though he shot 68 on Friday and holed-out out better than his 31 putts suggested, the gloss was knocked off over the weekend.

He three-putted twice on his front nine yesterday. First at three, where he failed hole from 26 inches for par, and again at six, where he missed from inside four feet. Harrington played a little better down the stretch, polishing-off a 13-footer for par at 11 and following-up with a lovely birdie three at 12.

Yet with little left to play for, his mind probably had long departed for Augusta when he made bogey at 18 after hitting his 200 yards approach into water left of the green.

JB Holmes made it all look very pedestrian as he played the first 12 holes of his final in a stunning nine-under to overhaul 54-hole leader Jordan Spieth. He set the clubhouse target on 16-under with a 64 as blustery wet weather turned the finishing stretch into a torrid test of character.

Johnson Wagner, 33, who won the first of his three Tour titles here in 2008 but has no card now, forced extra time when he holed a 24-footer at the last for birdie and a 69.

Then fellow-Texan Spieth, who won for the third time in four months at last month's Valpar, made it a threesome in sudden-death with a fighting par from a difficult lie right of 18 for a final round 70.

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