Friday 13 December 2019

Nightmare nine leaves Padraig Harrington in horrors

Padraig Harrington
Padraig Harrington
Graeme McDowell shows his disappointment alongside caddie Ken Comboy on the 18th yesterday

William S Callahan

BUBBA WATSON and Padraig Harrington both showed their penchant for the surreal yesterday, though on different continents and in entirely different ways.

Watson displayed his creative genius in wrapping up his first World Golf Championship victory in Shanghai but Harrington's mazy, crazy closing 76 at the $4m Sanderson Farms Championship in Mississippi included a nightmare quintuple-bogey nine at 12.

Ironically, the Dubliner breezed through the cut at The Country Club of Jackson in five-under before stumbling out of contention with a dispiriting third-round 76. It included a harbinger for the disaster that would befall Harrington yesterday at the 12th … a double-bogey out of the water on that same 409-yard par four was one of three sixes in four holes on his back nine on Saturday.

After opening his final round with bogey four on 10, Harrington missed from five feet for birdie at 11, then pulled his drive into deep rough left of 12 before knocking his 113 yards approach into the water hazard.

Just off the green and 32 feet from the hole in four, the 43-year-old needed another five to get down, officially four-putting from 22 feet to equal his worst hole score on the PGA Tour.

Harrington made a quadruple-bogey nine at the 12th at Atlanta Athletic Club in the 2001 US PGA and shot eight on consecutive Sundays in August 2009, stumbling to a treble-bogey at Firestone's 16th, followed by another 'snowman' at the par-three eighth in the US PGA at Hazeltine. He hit four balls into the water on the way to the career-high 13 at The Oxfordshire's 17th during the Benson and Hedges International in 1996, his first year as a pro.

Remarkably, Harrington responded with back-to-back birdies at 13 and 14 yesterday and, after turning in six-over 42, made another brace on one and two with another birdie at six. A bogey four at seven was the only blemish on his way home. Harrington finished in last place on three-over as Canada's Nick Taylor, 26, who won his card in the recent Web.com Tour finals, claimed his first US victory.

Had Salvador Dali made strokes with golf clubs instead of brushes, he'd surely have enjoyed applying finishing touches as outrageous as those which brought Watson his first win outside America in the HSBC Champions at Sheshan International.

Famous for sealing the first of his two US Masters titles in 2012 with a mind-warping draw shot from deep in the trees right of Augusta's 10th, Watson yesterday pulled another couple of efforts from the realms of the absurd.

The 36-year-old appeared to fritter away his victory hopes when he followed-up an untimely bogey at 16 with a shocking five at the par-three 17th after taking two to get out of a greenside trap.

Then he forced his way into a play-off with Tim Clark with a phenomenal eagle out of sand to the left of 18 before beating the South African with a 20-foot birdie putt on the first tie hole.

Though he led for 60 holes after opening with back-to-back rounds of 67, Graeme McDowell admitted a measure of frustration at having to settle for a share of third place on 10-under (worth $381,666) with Rickie Fowler and Hiroshi Iwata after a mundane final round of 73.

G-Mac played sublimely on Thursday but thereafter needed to lean heavily on his putter until that trusty instrument fell mute yesterday … he narrowly missed a 12-footer at 18 for birdie and a place in the play-off.

Positives

"I was battling my golf swing. I generally didn't hit it very well Friday, okay yesterday and today was kind of ugly. I had the rights going and I couldn't stop it," he explained. "I gave myself opportunities but in the end, my game wasn't good enough this week.

"Yet there are positives to be taken from finishing third in a field of this calibre playing the way I did," added the doughty Ulsterman, now ninth in the Race to Dubai

Shane Lowry, who remains on the fringe of the world's elite top-50, picked up a morale boost on the way to this week's Turkish Open with the final-round 68 at Sheshan that left him $65,000 richer in 34th.

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