Sport Golf

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Harrington's play-off hopes fade after bright opening

NICE morning, pristine golf course and a sweet start. Padraig Harrington couldn't have asked for better at the Wyndham Championship yesterday... until clouds of doubt gathered once again over the Dubliner on his back nine.

Harrington's decision to cancel a family holiday in The Bahamas and make one last ditch effort to qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs appeared to pay-off handsomely as he raced to three-under in his first six holes at Sedgefield Country Club yesterday.

Yet after completing the back nine in an accomplished, error-free 32 strokes, Harrington stumbled to a couple of frustrating bogeys at three and four, which dropped him into the middle of the pack on one-under. And there Harrington stayed, signing for a 69 which left the Irishman six strokes off the shared by Americans Jeff Quinney and Tommy 'Two Gloves' Gainey with a brace of seven-under par 63's.

So a performance which promised to much at the outset ultimately did little to boost his prospects of climbing at least five places up the FedEx Cup ladder and into the 125-man field for next week's first playoff, the Barclays.

In truth, Harrington's outward nine was as good as any he's played this year. He slammed a drive 340 yards into the heart of the fairway and then hit a short-iron 141 yards to five feet for a fabulous birdie a 11.

The Dubliner, who turns 40 at the end of the month, holed from seven feet for another birdie at 13 and then followed up with a third after chipping to nine feet at the par five 15th.

Yet his confidence would be rocked by a bogey out of a greenside bunker at the par three third and he followed-up with an infuriating three-putt bogey at the next, missing from inside three feet for par. Harrington's playing companions, Paul Casey (65) and Justin Leonard (66), made a firm statement of their intent to book their place at The Barclays.

So did Ernie Els, who suddenly found rhythm and touch with his belly-putter and left months of frustration on the greens behind him with a 65 of his own.

Wyndham Championship,

Live, Sky Sports 3, 8.0

Irish Independent

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