Thursday 29 September 2016

Spieth should take heart from 63 holes of Masters domination - Padraig Harrington

Published 05/05/2016 | 02:30

Pádraig Harrington. Photo: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Pádraig Harrington. Photo: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Padraig Harrington believes that Jordan Spieth should take a positive view of his Masters meltdown.

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Harrington, speaking from Quail Hollow in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he tees off today in the Wells Fargo Championship, watched every moment of the final day at Augusta.

Spieth looked unbeatable as he began his back nine leading the field by five shots, but his round unravelled with bogey on holes 10 and 11, and a horrible seven on the par-three 12th.

The shock collapse of the reigning champion and pre-tournament favourite unexpectedly opened up opportunities for other contenders.

England's Danny Willett proved he had the game and the guts to take his chance and ended up with the Green Jacket.

Harrington had to watch the drama unfold at home in Dublin as he did not qualify for the tournament. He does, however, see no reason for Spieth to dwell on the one that got away.

"As regards the Masters, I did watch it all," he said. "I always try and take a slightly different look at these things, and if I was Jordan Spieth, I'd be walking away thinking 'wow, I lapped the field by five shots after 63 holes with my 'B' game. How good am I?'

Happen

"I wouldn't be thinking at all about the finish. That could happen to anybody. I'd be thinking 'I was lapping the field and I wasn't even playing my best'.

"That should bring a guy a lot of confidence, rather than focusing on the slip-up on the back nine."

The three-time Major winner expects that Spieth and his team will have done all the analysis required to avoid a repeat of the mistakes which led to his problems.

Harrington suggests that a hefty dose of perspective is required, inside and outside the Spieth camp.

"If you look at any of the great players, (Tom) Watson was known as a choker before he won his first Major. Jack Nicklaus had 18 second places, he must have had a lot of mess-ups in that," he said.

"I saw the other day on TV when they were doing the highlights, Arnie (Palmer) completely threw away the Masters (in 1961) to Gary Player when he took six at the last.

"It's not like it never happened before and won't happen again."

Spieth played a practice round at US Open venue Oakmont, yesterday. He will not resume on Tour until the Players Championship at Sawgrass next week, so defending champion Rory McIlroy is the man to beat at Quail Hollow.

McIlroy, who celebrated his 27th birthday on Tuesday, and Shane Lowry are playing their first tournament since the Masters where they finished tied-10th and tied-39th respectively.

Harrington's last outing was in the Valero Texas Open where a final-round 74 dropped him to tied-25th, seven shots behind winner Charley Hoffman.

"I'm in good form. I'm really looking forward to the meat of the season now," said Harrington.

The Dubliner is the first of the Irish on the course today, starting on the 1st tee at 7.30am (12.30pm Irish time).

McIlroy starts from the 10th tee at 7.50am (12.50pm Irish), while Lowry also goes off the 10th at 1.30pm (6.30pm Irish)

The European Tour and the Ladies European Tour both play at the same venue this week, for the first time: the men in the Trophee Hassan 11 on the Red Course at Royal Golf Dar Es Salam, Rabat, and the women on the Blue Course in the Lalla Meryem Cup.

Ireland has no women representatives, but seven men are in action: Peter Lawrie, Michael Hoey, Paul Dunne, Rory McNamara, Kevin Phelan, Gary Hurley and Cormac Sharvin.

Trophee Hassan 11

Live, Sky Sports 4, 11.30am/3.30pm

Wells Fargo Championship

Live, Sky Sports 4, 9.0pm

Irish Independent

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