Friday 24 November 2017

Harrington insists he can see clearly now in new spectacles

Dubliner confident return to glory days just around corner as new eyewear helps remove doubt on greens

Padraig Harrington
Padraig Harrington

Karl MacGinty

WHY would anyone with 20-20 vision want to wear spectacles?

Padraig Harrington can read the tiny print at the bottom of any eye chart, but is still wearing glasses for the first time in tournament play at this week's Cadillac Championship.

Intriguingly, by adjusting his eyesight to 20-10, they should help remove one of the biggest obstacles between the Dubliner and victory on Tour in recent seasons.

For most, seeing is believing. Yet Harrington has no such luxury when it comes to reading the line of his putts because of a stigmatism in his eyes.

"I've gone a good few years where the gap between what I see and what my instincts tell me creates doubt and makes me tentative," he explains.

As sports psychologist Dr Bob Rotella points out, hitting putts tentatively is far worse than stroking them with confidence down the wrong line. "I'd like my vision to match up with my instincts," he added. "I've been struggling with that for a while, but with these glasses it's pretty close."

The pair he's wearing at Doral are the fifth Harrington has had since linking up with Northern Irish firm, VSEye – and each has closed his credibility gap on the greens ever-tighter.

Many elite professional golfers have linked up with sports vision specialists.

Ernie Els attributed July's British Open win at Lytham as much to the work of South Africa's famous 'Eye Lady', Dr Sherylle Calder, as his controversial belly putter.

Harrington (41) believes his corrective glasses will remove a major stumbling block between him and a fourth Major title.

Disconcertingly, his eyesight has changed in recent years.

"As a kid, I always used to over-read everything right-to-left, just a fraction. Yet over the last few years, I've been seeing everything left-to-right and it's been a struggle.

"I can read greens instinctively, because I know what they're doing. But I'd like to see it as well. My vision is wrong, but with these glasses, it's getting pretty close."

How was he able to read the greens at Celtic Manor so well for his playing partner Ross Fisher at the 2010 Ryder Cup? "Simple, I'd tell him the line and he believed it," Harrington smiled.

"Every line I picked was an average of what I saw and what my instincts told me, but when you tell someone else, he's not aware of that. He just thinks that's the line and putts accordingly."

Harrington struggled to get the pace of the greens right during a dissatisfy-ing first-round 76 at Doral. He was happy with his reading of the greens in the new glasses, though, and believed he'll have no problem adjusting to a slight shortening of his perception of approach shots.

Of several changes made this season, including 21 pounds piled-on in what Harrington describes as his "Eat-for-Yards" programme and the record 10 tournaments he'll play before this year's Masters, the glasses could have the most spectacular effect.

"Look, I'd have told you I was closing in on something last year, because I hit the ball great," Harrington insisted. "This year I'm hitting it even better and I'm happier reading the greens. It's very close to being what I want."

Irish Independent

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