Friday 19 January 2018

Marathon man Harrington to fight tirelessly for Holy Grail

Shane Lowry of Ireland watches his tee shot on the fourth hole during the third round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
Shane Lowry of Ireland watches his tee shot on the fourth hole during the third round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am

William S Callahan

NOBODY among the golfing elite will travel further this year than Padraig Harrington as the 43-year-old Dubliner continues his tireless quest for redemption on the world's fairways.

Harrington has failed to make the cut in all three US events he's played in 2016 but will not be deterred in his marathon efforts this year to regain PGA Tour credentials and pride of place in the upper echelons of the game.

Three enjoyable days in the company of Shane Lowry and their amateur partners, Dermot Desmond and JP McManus, at the AT&T National Pro-Am came to a jarring conclusion for Harrington on Saturday as he wrapped-up a third round of level par 72 at Spyglass Hill with a nightmare triple-bogey seven at 18.

Agonisingly, those three shots denied the Dubliner the opportunity to perform in yesterday's climax at Pebble Beach, where Brandt Snedeker won his second National Pro-Am in three years.

Snedeker cruised home, three clear of Nick Watney (69) and four clear of Charlie Beljan (66) and the rest of the field on 22-under.

Clara ace Lowry, so impressive as he finished tied-eighth in San Diego last week, looked a little jaded down the stretch at Pebble yesterday but still came up with a sweet birdie out of the greenside bunker at 18 for birdie and a one-under 71 that left him on the fringe the top-20 on 13-under.

Sadly, Jim Furyk's phobia when it comes to converting 54-hole leads into victory stretched to nine straight times yesterday. After leading through three rounds of his first tournament in 151 days courtesy of a 63 on Saturday,

Furyk surrendered the initiative as he played the front nine in an untidy two-over par and he was three-over through 16, with nobody following the final group.

Jason Day, winner at Torrey Pines last Sunday, faces a fine from the PGA Tour after a foul-mouthed outburst following a poor tee shot at the par-three 12th. "Jesus, f**k, f**k," the Australian was clearly heard to say after the first wayward shot of a hitherto fine round, leading CBS and Sky TV to apologise to viewers.

Though six-under through 10, a three-putt bogey at 15 and another dropped shot after a crazy-long 5-iron at 17 landed on the 18th tee, left Day (67) tied with Dustin Johnson (66) in the clubhouse on 17-under, the latter playing his second event in six months.

Had Harrington managed to negotiate 18 in par on Saturday, he'd have made the final round for the first time this year.

The three-times Major Champion simply is racking up too many double and triple-bogeys, and on one occasion even worse, to build on his long-awaited victory in the final event of the 32 he played in 2014, December's Indonesian Open in Jakarta. A desperate seven-over par 78 on Friday at Phoenix, including a quadruple-bogey eight at 18, where he even had a fresh air as he made an ill-advised attempt to play a shot left-handed out of trouble close to the water in the left rough, left him six beyond the pale at his pipe-opener.

Then at the Farmers Insurance Open in San Diego, Harrington's second round 79 left him five outside the cut. Remarkably, after making an eagle three at 13, his fourth hole, the Irishman played the next 14 holes in nine-over, including a double-bogey seven at six.

Yet Harrington continues his search for his Holy Grail in this week's Northern Trust (LA Open) at Riviera Country Club in Los Angeles.

His play may not be at the same exalted level it was six years ago but Harrington's a lot fitter than many other 43-year-olds, allowing him envisage 20 tournaments in the US this year, plus the mandatory 13 in Europe.

And remember, he's eligible right now to play in only two events, The Open and US PGA, of the eight that count on both sides of the Atlantic.

"I'll be playing everything I can get into this year," he said smiling. "I'd not be surprised if I played the most events of any player out here last year and I will probably do the same again this season."

Andrew Dodt became the second successive Q-School graduate in seven days to win on the European Tour when he followed up Anirban Lahiri's victory in Malaysia with a dramatic success of his own in the True Thailand Classic at Black Mountain.

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