Thursday 23 March 2017

Late flourish lifts Harrington's spirits ahead of Major test

William S Callahan

Padraig Harrington could stamp the words 'mission accomplished' on his efforts at the FedEx St Jude Classic after two birdies in the final three holes of yesterday's satisfying 68, his first sub-par round of a week at TPC Southwind.

Nobody in the Harrington camp will be doing cartwheels after a top-50 finish on two-over but Dubliner achieved his primary objective in Memphis, namely to get 72 holes of competitive golf under his belt in the run-in to this week's US Open.

After three weeks nursing the knee injury that forced him out of the BMW PGA at Wentworth, Harrington needed to knock the rough edges off his game. Having scraped through to the weekend, Harrington barely made the secondary cut on Saturday but made good use of those precious extra 18 holes yesterday.

Harrington missed a five-foot par-saver at the first, where his 300-yard tee shot ran through the fairway into the right rough. He then landed back-to-back birdies at three and four before pulling his tee shot at five into a fairway bunker for another bogey. After holing out from five feet for a nice birdie two at eight, he hooked his tee shot way left of the fairway on his way to a bogey at 12, precisely the sort of shot he needs to eliminate.

He hit his tee shot into the water for a bogey at the short 14th, but atoned down the stretch. A facile two-putt birdie four at 16 was followed by an arrow-straight 302-yard drive to set up a safe par at 17. He then finished with a flourish, sinking a 28-foot birdie putt at 18.

Harrington will still be outside the world's elite top 50 when he arrives at Congressional today, but his game clearly was coming round.

The event was won by Harrison Frazer who, in this 355th start, finally tasted victory when he beat Robert Karlsson on the third extra hole.

Irish Independent

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