Sunday 18 March 2018

Harrington and Lawrie find out who their friends are

Padraig Harrington
Padraig Harrington

William S Callahan

AS world No 1 Rory McIlroy resumes his Masters build-up at this week’s Honda Classic at Palm Beach Gardens and Tiger Woods spends another week on nearby Jupiter Island fixing his game, the pursuit of redemption goes on for Padraig Harrington and Peter Lawrie.

For Harrington, the Honda will be a fifth PGA Tour event on the trot as he tries to regain his playing credentials in the US, while fellow Dub Lawrie’s bid to regain his European Tour card continues at the Joburg Open in South Africa.

His status as a three-time Major Champion and one of the most business-friendly players in the world has ensured a consistent stream of invites for Harrington, who’s not had to use the once-in-a-lifetime exemption available to him as one of the top-50 in career earnings on the American circuit.

After fighting his way through the cut for the first time in 2015 at the Northern Trust Open, Harrington blew his chances of a big cheque with a wild and wooly five-over par 76 on Saturday.

Though he missed seven of 14 fairways and hit just eight of 18 greens in regulation yesterday, Harrington climbed a dozen places into the 50's on six-over with a hard-scrambling, even-par 71 on an especially challenging set-up at Riviera Country Club.

Lawrie, meanwhile, already has received invites to no fewer than six tournaments since missing out on his card by just one stroke at European Q-School last November.

He made his fourth cut on the trot at the Hero Indian Open, the €10,631 he earned in a tie for 31st in Delhi boosted his winnings in the past month to €62,547.

And the invitations just keep coming. Lawrie, 40, follows his appearance in Johannesburg with yet another at the Africa Open in East London next week.

“When you lose your card at Q-School, you’re pretty much down and out,” he added. “But that’s when you find out who your friends are.

“People have come out from the shadows and helped me out. Paul McGinley was fantastic. As Ryder Cup captain he’d have a lot of pull at tournaments and he’s written five or six letters to different events looking for spots for me.

“Rory McIlroy did the same, while being in the European Tour Players Committee also helped. The things I’ve given to the Tour, they’ve started to give back to me.”

In contention after playing the first 36 holes in Delhi in a polished three-under, Lawrie’s putter remained cold during Saturday’s even-par 71. Then he shot a wayward 75 in gusting winds that made an ordeal of the final day.

Anirban Lahiri, winner of his maiden European Tour title in Malaysia a fortnight ago, came from seven behind to tie overnight leader SSP Chawrasia with a final round 69, then beat his fellow Indian with birdie four on the first tie hole, 18.

Chowrasia won at Delhi Golf Club in 2008 but et a possible third European title slip with a closing 76. Gareth Maybin shared 50th on five-over after a  72, earning €7,539.

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