Tuesday 12 December 2017

Harrington lifted by tide of goodwill

Irish ace hits form ahead of Cup bid

Bernie McGuire in Chambourcy

Padraig Harrington will take the confidence of a final-round 64 at the Vivendi Cup with him to Celtic Manor this week -- as well as the overwhelming support of his fellow competitors at Chambourcy.

Harrington signed off before the Ryder Cup with an eagle and six birdies for a 13-under-par closing tally on the Marly Course at Golf de Joyvenal.

The triple Major winner cut a swathe through the French field yesterday, coming from 10 shots back at the start of the round to snatch an eagle at the par-five 13th hole -- when he put a hybrid second shot to 10 feet -- plus seven birdies, including three in succession from the second, before ending his round with a laser-like sand-wedge to six feet on 18 for his 64.

Harrington's last-day effort was his best final round since a another 64 saw him finish runner-up behind Ross Fisher at the Irish Open.

He had no hope of ending a more than two-year winless drought -- as England's John Parry captured his maiden Tour title ahead of Sweden's Johan Edfors -- but Harrington's Parisian week was all about restoring some lost gloss and retaining that shine ahead of this week's showcase examination in Wales.

"The week before a big event is all about seeing where your game is at and seeing what work needs to be done," he said.

"I struggled with my putting early on in the week but today it was quite sharp, but I definitely don't have as much to do now on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday."

Harrington was heading straight for Charles de Gaulle airport and a flight to London and then onto Cardiff where awaiting him in his Celtic Manor resort room will be his clothing attire for a sixth Ryder Cup appearance.

But while Colin Montgomerie will be delighted with Harrington's welcome return to form, Harrington's more pleased with the support he's taking with him to Wales.

"The best thing about being here this week has been the players because you can't believe how many players from the rank-and-file European Tour have come up to me to wish the team well, and how much it means to them that we win the Ryder Cup," said Harrington.


"Absolutely, that has been the best part of coming here to France. The passion of the players for Europe to win back the Ryder Cup has definitely been one of the biggest advantages of me being here this week.

"There's guys that I wouldn't necessarily know and guys I hardly know, all coming up to me not only wishing me luck but wishing the team luck. There is just so many people behind the European cause."

And having be given a wild-card pick and then having added the French event to his schedule, Harrington left France declaring he had no point to prove to those critical of his selection.

"No, no because at the end of the day it is impossible to prove any point like that as everybody is going to have their own opinion," he said.

"Most people are pretty committed to their own opinion so there is no point in me trying to prove people right. I have just got to do my own thing, and play my own game. It's not something I can control and it's best to stay away from issues like that."

Parry is the third member of the 2007 GB & I Walker Cup squad to win this year after Rhys Davies captured the Hassan 11 Trophy in Morocco and Rory McIlroy won the Quail Hollow Championship.

Incidentally, on the winning USA side that year at Royal County Down was American Ryder Cup rookie Rickie Fowler. Among those glued to the TV this week will be Gary Murphy, who will have his feet up after a hectic start and finish to his Vivendi Cup.

Murphy had only minutes to spare in making his 8.25am tee time after the taxi he'd booked to pick him up at his hotel failed to show.

Then it was a mad dash after his closing round of 75 and a two-over-par tally for a courtesy car he'd booked to take him and two others to Charles de Gaulle airport.

So imagine Murphy's demeanour now after finishing at the tail of the field to be informed no cars were available and he would have to take a taxi.

"I am now just looking forward so much to spending next week off with my four-year-old daughter," he said.

Murphy continues to struggle at around 250th on the money list but does have the luxury when he returns in a fortnight of starts in Scotland, Portugal and Spain while he's also been afforded to a 'sponsor's invitation' to contest November's US$6m Barclays Singapore Open.

Irish Independent

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