Sport Golf

Monday 20 November 2017

Mother Nature intervenes to halt Padraig putting revival

William S Callahan

MOTHER nature didn't do Padraig Harrington any favours yesterday, forcing play to a halt in the first round of the Travelers Championship just as the Dubliner showed a glimmer of form with his putter.

Thunderstorms brought play to a halt at rain-doused TPC River Highlands minutes after Harrington sank a 14-foot putt for his first birdie of the day on the par-three fifth hole, his 14th.

When the hooters sounded, the Irishman was standing in the heart of the fairway at the par five sixth on one-over par for the tournament, a lack-lustre showing on a short, rain-softened course.

Birdies had been there for the taking. Michael Bradley had seven on his card as he raced to the head of the field on six-under though 16 before the weather closed in.

Bradley, (34) from Florida, picked-up his fourth PGA Tour win at the Puerto Rico Open in March.

Just six players managed to complete 18 holes before the storm. Kris Blanks was best of them with a two-under 68 which featured an eagle two at 15, where he pitched-in from 29 yards shy of the green.

BOGEY

Pointedly, Harrington made bogey at this 295-yards par four.

After finding the fairway with his first four tee shots, he blazed his drive at 15 so far right, his ball landed on a tee box for another hole. The Dubliner put his next in a greenside bunker and failed to get up and down, missing a nine foot putt for par.

As most of the early starters joined the birdie-fast, Harrington slipped to two-over after leaking another drive on 17. This time into the water hazard which runs all the way down the right side of this 420 yards, dog-legged par four.

Harrington's putter had been frigid during last week's US Open at Congressional, where he tied 45th on five-over, a whopping 21 shots behind Rory McIlroy.

There was little sign of improvement yesterday as the three-times Major champion created three decent chances with some tidy play from tee to green but let them all go a-begging.

Then shortly after the Dubliner (39), rammed home that sweet 14-footer at the fifth, the sirens sounded.

Meanwhile, Gary Murphy emerged from the darkest spell of his career yesterday, leaping into a tie for fourth on four-under after a splendid first round 67 at the Scottish Hydro Challenge.

Murphy (38) has failed to break par in 12 rounds and has missed the cut in the six events he has played this year. But something clicked for the Kilkennyman at the Macdonald Spey Golf Course.

His best score in 20 months left Murphy four off the scorching pace set by Scotland's Chris Doak with a 63.

Travelers Championship,

Live, Sky Sports 3, 8.0

Irish Independent

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