Tuesday 23 January 2018

Brotherly love boosts Padraig

Padraig and Fergal Harrington. Photo: Getty Images
Padraig and Fergal Harrington. Photo: Getty Images

Bernie McGuire in Chambourcy

You would expect nothing to come between Padraig Harrington and his brother, Fergal, who is partnering his triple Major- winning younger brother in this week's Vivendi Cup in France.

Except when they approached the end of their opening round, that is, with Fergal finding the 18th green of the Retz course and brother, Padraig, the 18th green of the Marly course.

The Pro-Am at Golf de Joyenval is being staged over both courses and the layout in Chambourcy is such that the two 18th greens finish side-by-side.

Harrington was shouting the yardage of 130 yards to Fergal, who was in the rough down the right side of the hole and in between the two finishing holes. However, Fergal mishit the shot, landing it well right and on the fringe of the adjoining 18th.


Harrington put his 103-yard wedge shot to 15 feet on the 'correct' Marly course green, before Fergal -- who had another brother Tadhg caddying -- saved plenty of face with a super wedge shot to just five feet.

With Harrington holing out for birdie and a round of four-under-par 68, it robbed his 41-year-old brother the chance to make a glorious par, as with Padraig already in for three, Fergal didn't need to putt.

"It was just brilliant and the best experience I've ever had on a golf course," said Fergal. "The four of us, with Tadhg and Padraig's caddy Ronan (Flood), had a great time. It's been good craic all week and Ronan's been like a mediator keeping us all apart. And he didn't give us any 'mysteries' which was nice."

As much as Fergal warmed to the format, so has Padraig and watching the three-time Major winner, you would hardly assume there's an important event of sorts in Wales next week.

It's customary the week before a Major or a WGC, or even a Ryder Cup, to see Harrington with 'work in progress' signs on the practice range and Wilson staff running after his every club tinkering needs.

But not this week and maybe that's a reflection of the new leadership role Harrington sees himself accepting next week at Celtic Manor.

"It's nice having my two brothers here as it keeps you in a different mood," he said.

"I three-putted 14 today and my brother made par, so I walked off the green feeling not too bad. He made his par, so it saved me a shot.

"It's like a Ryder Cup feeling. I've seen in the Ryder Cup where you're not playing well, but your partner is, and then, come the back nine, and all of a sudden you do one or two crucial things and you feel good about yourself.

"That is why partnerships have to be spot on.

"There's no doubt this is vital, particularly when we see senior players managing to get rookies to play the best golf of their life. And also rookies sometimes can bring out the best in senior players.

"So, there must be an enthusiasm in the team and that's what team golf is all about. It definitely is, get the partnerships right and make sure that you have momentum going forward."


And Fergal, who has accompanied his brother to many Majors, also sees a change in Harrington's make-up ahead of his sixth straight Ryder Cup appearance.

"Padraig is definitely more relaxed than he would be compared to some of the tournaments that I have been to," said Fergal. "I'm outside the ropes and he's always so busy. But every night this week we've had dinner and gone out and it does seem that this easy week is already suiting him in preparation for next week."

Meanwhile, Sweden's Johan Edfors secured himself the Marly course record with an 11-under-par 61 to end the day two clear of England's David Dixon.

Paul McGinley, with Dermot Desmond as his amateur partner, joined Harrington in signing for a 68, while Gary Murphy shot a 69, Peter Lawrie a 74 and Simon Thornton a disappointing 76.

Vivendi Trophy,

Live, Sky Sports 1, 12.0

Irish Independent

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