Harrington injury may scupper 'World' ambitions
A FREAK foot injury may threaten Padraig Harrington's hopes of extending the longest run of appearances in the World Golf Championships.
Harrington bruised his left foot on Tuesday night while training in the gym at the Portugal Masters on-course hotel at Vilamoura.
The pain was so intense during yesterday's Pro-Am, he had to remove his left golf shoe and Harrington was observed walking in his sock while phoning for physio Dale Richardson to meet him on the Victoria course's ninth hole.
Richardson applied a bandage and Harrington was expected to receive further treatment later on.
"I bruised the top of my foot after it had locked up in the gym last night," the Dubliner explained. "Then, out on the course, it was starting to get uncomfortable and irritating me, so that's why I took my shoe off.
"I've got it back moving again, but I'm going to see Dale again later today."
Harrington has been completely free from injury since April, having recovered from a flexor muscle problem in his neck while warming up ahead of The Masters. After struggling through the opening day at Augusta, carding a 77, he then missed the cut after a second-round 75.
Neil Tappin from UK magazine 'Golf Monthly' played alongside Harrington in the Pro-Am and said: "Padraig had been limping from the outset and he mentioned he'd bruised his foot last night.
"Yet it didn't seem to affect his scoring as he shot an easy five or six under."
Harrington wasn't limping as he left the course, but the injury casts a doubt over his prospects of success in this week's €2.5m event.
Harrington has played more World Golf Championships than any other player, but needs to end his three-year victory drought on the major tours in Portugal if he's to extend that record to 39 WGCs at next month's $7m HSBC Champions in Shanghai.
Cut-off point for Shanghai qualification is Sunday night and Harrington needs to rise from World No 78 and get inside the top 25 to qualify. "The HSBC Champions is an event I'd love to play," he said. "I know I need to get inside the top 25 in the rankings and a win would do it."
Shane Lowry, one of seven Irish competing for the €416,660 first prize at Vilamoura, is determined to play in December's Dubai World Championship for the first time since turning pro a month after his stunning victory at the 2009 Irish Open.
Lowry was just two places shy of the qualifying top 60 in last year's Race to Dubai and the Esker Hills star is determined to move off his current 62nd standing. "The good thing is that I have five European Tour events remaining to qualify," he said.
Meanwhile, Lowry has accepted an invitation to play in the Dunlop Phoenix tournament in Japan (Nov 17-20), where he finished third two years ago.
McDowell does like to be beside the seaside
Graeme McDowell had a historic previous visit to Georgia on his mind as he touched down in Sea Island for this week's McGladery Classic, the penultimate event in the PGA Tour's angst-ridden 'Fall Series'.
Not that McDowell is the least bit troubled about his playing credentials for next season or several to come following his victory at the 2010 US Open.
Indeed, the Ulsterman is in ripe good humour following his best finish of the season in a tie for third at the recent Dunhill Links, not to mention his return to Sea Island, scene of one of the greatest achievements of his career.
McDowell was a member of the GB&I team which made history 10 years ago by winning the Walker Cup for the first time on American soil at Ocean Forest, which shares the same stretch of Atlantic coast as this week's tournament venue, The Seaside Course.
"It's nice to return here," he enthused. "We'd a great team, including fellow Northern Irishman Michael Hoey and World No 1 Luke Donald, who is the Iron Man of golf right now."
Neither Hoey, named European Tour Player of the Month for September this week after his victory at the Dunhill Links, nor Donald will be in action this week, but a few famous faces from the US team they beat tee it up at The Seaside today.
They include Bryce Molder, who clinched his maiden PGA Tour victory on the sixth hole of sudden death against Briny Baird in a riveting climax to last Sunday's Frys.com Open.
Meanwhile, Molder's 2001 Walker Cup comrades, James Driscoll and DJ Trahan are among those fighting to hold onto their US playing credentials this week. Driscoll currently is 122nd in the money list and Trahan 130th. The top 125 after next week's Children's Miracle Network Classic in Florida keep their cards for 2012.
Also on the cusp is Paul Casey, currently 127th with $590, 134 won in 14 events, one shy of the minimum 15 required by US Tour regulations. Having shaken off a persistent foot injury, Casey won in Korea a fortnight back, followed up with a share of seventh at the Frys.com Open and could go close.
Doubtless, Rickie Fowler (22), will be buoyed by his first win at the Kolon Korea Open last Sunday, but the long haul across 13 time zones, from Seoul home to America, may count against him this weekend.
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