IRELAND'S three-time Major champion Padraig Harrington left any injury talk well behind in sweltering Memphis yesterday as he opened the FedEx St Jude Classic with a satisfying level- par 70.
Forced to miss the recent BMW PGA at Wentworth with a knee muscle strain, Harrington played relatively neat and tidy golf for a player who has been out of action for three weeks.
And on the occasions Harrington did miss a green, the hours he has spent recently working on his short game in preparation for next week's US Open at Congressional paid-off handsomely.
The Dubliner turned in one-under after making a nice up-and-down birdie out of a greenside bunker at the par-five 16th, his seventh hole. The only blot on his card came at the third where he flew the green by some distance with a fairway metal and then failed to get up and down from a bunker for par.
However, Harrington would have been closer to the clubhouse lead held on four-under by Americans John Merrick, Kris Blanks and Kevin Kisner had he holed three putts of six feet or less for birdie at six and eight and nine.
Sergio Garcia's opening round was wrecked by a horrible sextuple-bogey 11 on the third. After smashing a monster 336-yard drive into the right rough, the Spaniard slammed three balls into the water in an effort to make the 205-yard carry to the green. He found a greenside trap in eight and took three more to get down from there.
Garcia hit another shot into water on his way to a double bogey at 15, his sixth. He signed for an eight-over 78.
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