Harrington facing uphill battle after being hit for sixes
JUST 10 days after his ascent into heaven at the Honda, Padraig Harrington crashed to a hellish first round 76 in the Valspar.
An abject performance with his putter, saw the Dubliner slump to his worst round in 15 on the Copperhead Course at the Innisbrook Resort just outside Tampa.
His confidence boosted by that stunningly resilient first US Tour victory in nearly seven years at PGA National last Monday week, Harrington was hit for a couple of sixes on his opening two holes and was tentative thereafter.
Carving his opening tee shot at 10 into trees right of the fairway, Harrington had to hack his ball back into play, reached the green in three and then three-putted from 12 feet for double-bogey.
After missing a 40-inch putt for his bogey on his first green, Harrington then failed to save par from inside four feet at 11 after taking a wayward route from tee to green on this par five.
The 43-year-old Irishman actually owns a share of the course record at The Copperhead after opening with a 10-under par 61 here in 2012. Yet instead of clicking into similarly hot scoring form yesterday, Harrington instead was confronted with painful reminders of his battle to overcome the dreaded yips that year.
Though he holed capably from 12 feet for birdie four at 14, Harrington was back in the trees off the tee at 16, a sure recipe for bogey as the treacherous entrée to the Snake Pit, as Copperhead's infamous closing trio are known.
Harrington was bitten even more painfully on the short 17th, where he hit his tee shot into sand; got out well but once again missed the par putt from three feet.
In all, he would manage to find just two fairways and three of nine greens in regulation on his outward half, with 16 putts among his four-over total of 39 strokes he took on the back nine.
Further trouble awaited on the fourth green, where Harrington three-putted from five feet for double-bogey five.
Though he rebounded with a facile two-putt birdie four at the next, his troubles were not over. After hitting his tee shot at seven into the trees and his approach into a greenside bunker, Harrington yet again failed to get up and down to save par.
Eleven shy of the clubhouse lead snatched by England's Brian Davis with a fine 65, Harrington lay a handful outside the projected cut mark. It's probably going to take a miracle of Honda proportions for him not to miss the weekend for the sixth time in 10 outings this wraparound PGA Tour season.
Harrington's playing companion Adam Scott also had a couple of three-putts yesterday as he found the going just a tad tougher with a conventional putter than he had at last week's Cadillac World Golf Championship, where he finished fourth. Scott had performed remarkably well on the greens last weekend, considering he discarded the broomhandle putter he'd wielded for the past four years and with which he won a famous first Green Jacket for his country at the 2012 Masters.
Dane Morton Orum Madsen applied a stunning eagle-eagle finish to the first round 63 that gave him a share of the lead with England's David Horsey on seven-under at the Tshwane Open in Pretoria country Club.
Madsen landed a hole-in-one at the eighth, covering the flag with his wedge before his ball sucked back into the cup.
The 26-year-old then followed up by hitting a lovely three-iron to 12 feet at the par-five ninth and holing the putt for an eagle three and a truly sensational finish to match Horsey's flawless effort.
Michael Hoey, best of the Irish in 52nd after an even par 70, also had an eagle three on his card at the 12th. Ryder Cup captain Darren Clarke was tied 80th after his 71, while Damien McGrane lay 144th following a 75.
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