Sport Golf

Friday 26 April 2019

Harrington hopes for good karma on return from injury woe

Padraig Harrington. Photo: Sportsfile
Padraig Harrington. Photo: Sportsfile

Brian Keogh

Pádraig Harrington is banking on "good karma" playing its part when he returns after 125 days away from the game in the European Tour's Maybank Championship in steamy Kuala Lumpur.

Europe's 2020 Ryder Cup skipper hasn't played a competitive round since last November having fractured a bone in his left wrist in a fall on the stairs just before Christmas.

But after finally getting the green light, he's ready to test his fitness in a city where he's recorded five top-eight finishes in the Malaysian Open.

"I wouldn't say the wrist is 100pc, it might not be 100pc for about nine months, or at least another six or seven months," Harrington said at Saujana Golf and Country Club, where he had a second successive runner-up finish in 2001.

"I'm working away at it. Traditionally the Malaysian Open was my first event of the season if you go back 20 years, so it's my first event this year, and I'm looking forward to that good karma, let's say."

The Dubliner (47) admits he still has some way to go before being fully fit and may have to curtail his practice.

"There's a certain amount of mobility issues, and I need to work on the strength of it," he said.

"Maybe hit a few less balls in the short term but in general, it's right on track."

He's bracing himself for a tough test, calling the firm greens awaiting him this year as "a wake-up call" compared to the soft greens he's traditionally faced on his Asia Tour travels.

The Players Championship was a wake-up call for Spain's Jon Rahm, who joins Graeme McDowell and an upbeat Seamus Power in the Valspar Championship at Copperhead more aware than ever of the importance of the mental game.

The Spaniard led after 54 holes at Sawgrass but eventually limped home tied 12th behind Rory McIlroy after a closing 76, fatally ignoring his caddie's advice to lay up on the 11th and finding water instead.

"It wasn't anything like technique or swing-related," Rahm said, insisting he would be stronger for the experience.

"It never is. When we're hitting it so good Thursday, Friday and Saturday and Sunday things go wrong, it's never the swing, it's all up here (pointing to his head).

"Golf is 99pc in your head; it's just what it is. And it's what I've been working on for so long, and it's what I'm going to continue to be working on."

Power tied for 35th at Sawgrass to make just his second cut on the PGA Tour in his last 10 starts and after making a hole-in-one in the third round, he's looking forward to pushing on at a venue where the tough finishing trio of holes known as The Snake Pit lies in wait.

"It was much better last week," said the West Waterford man, who's gunning for a win that would secure a Masters debut.

"Apart from playing that stretch from the 10th to the 13th quite poorly, it was a massive improvement.

On the LPGA Tour, Stephanie Meadow tees it up in the Bank of Hope Founders Cup in Phoenix while in the Italian Women's Amateur Championship, Lurgan's Annabel Wilson goes into the second round tied for fifth place, just two shots behind England's Lily May Humphreys and Italy's Emilie Alba Paltrinieri after opening with a level-par 72.

Castlewarden's Lauren Walsh was tied 17th after a 75 at Is Molas in Sardinia where Lisburn's Paula Grant was joint 83rd after an 82, three shots outside the top 60 and ties who will make the 54-hole cut tomorrow.

  • Valspar Championship, Live, Sky Sports, 7pm
  • Maybank Championship, Live, Sky Sports, 3.30am

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