Saturday 21 April 2018

Open Diary: Harrington and McDowell take disappointment in their strides

Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

MAJOR champions Graeme McDowell and Padraig Harrington were among the walking wounded of Carton House.

Not, I hasten to add, in the physical sense. These were wounds to the psyche, to self-esteem, to personal and professional pride.

Typically, McDowell and Harrington showed plenty of desire, but that did not translate into the quality of golf which brought them to the supreme heights of the game.

A brace of 74s by the two Irish heroes left them both on one-over-par 145. They spent the afternoon worrying about making the cut before the axe finally fell at level par.

At least they didn't walk alone, as Rory McIlroy, Paul McGinley and Darren Clarke also took the exit door, but that meant huge disappointment for the players and the home fans.

In the case of Harrington, the 'footsy' index was something of a recurring theme for the day.

First, he was wearing new shoes, the Footjoy M Project, which he dutifully mentioned in the post-round press conference.

"I changed my shoes this week, actually started wearing FootJoy M Project, which are more about helping your feet work. They let your toes spread a bit," he said.

However, Harrington (pictured) dragged his feet somewhat during the round, as he and playing partners McDowell and 2012 Irish Open champion Jamie Donaldson were put on the clock for their pace of play.

G-Mac wasn't too pleased with that aspect, but he struggled to keep the smile off his face as Harrington described his latest practice gadget.

This is a tennis ball-like object that the Dubliner places under his left foot during practice and when the TV interviewer asked him about it, Padraig replied: "I think it's called a Chango Paw. It just makes my left foot have to work very hard to balance, to stabilise. It's certainly helping me in my swing.

"I have to work harder with my left foot and that seems to be helping my swing a bit and giving me a little bit better hit on my drives."

McDowell quipped: "There wasn't going to be a short answer to that question, was there?"

On a serious note, neither player was laughing about their game, but McDowell keeps it all in perspective with his charity fund-raising efforts for Crumlin Children's Hospital. Approximately €900,000 has been raised so far by McDowell's foundation.

"We're trying to continue to fund raise. We're about a million euro short of what is needed to build the new cardiac wing at Crumlin," he said.

"They've opened a new intensive care unit last year and this is a new complex of patient rooms and stuff up above the intensive care unit. It's been a lot of fun. You get a lot of perspective out of it. It certainly puts 74s into their true context."


DAMIAN Mooney admits he felt a bit emotional walking the fairway on the 18th hole after his second round.

Home region pro Mooney, a native of Belfast, experienced the joy of a hole-in-one at the 186-yard, par-three seventh using a 6-iron.

It was the ninth hole-in-one of his career and it boosted him towards a 68 for a two-under-par 142, ensuring safe passage to the week-end – a rare but delightful experience.

Mooney has played the Irish Open 17 times and this is only the second time he made the cut. The last time was at Portmarnock in 2003. Unfortunately, he won no prize for his feat. A BMW 6 series Gran Coupe is on offer for an ace at the 17th – and it's still up for grabs.


ATTENDANCE figures for day 2 at Carton House were 21,377, giving a two-day total of 36,659. Add in the Wednesday's Pro-Am figures and the overall total is 41,452.

It didn't look quite like 21,377 were roaming the fairways yesterday, but that perception is the norm at tournaments, particularly among cynical media folk.

Comparisons with Royal Portrush last year are not relevant, as the 2012 Irish Open, the first staging of the tournament in Northern Ireland since 1953, was the first European Tour event to be sold out since the Tour was instituted in 1972.

It attracted 112,280 spectators, which was a restricted number because of the infrastructural limitations of the area and the course, but Portrush will hold that record for a long time.


"Women – that's probably the most common question" – Joint leader Peter Uhlein's on being asked what is the most common question his friends ask about life on the European Tour.

Irish Independent

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