Sport Golf

Tuesday 24 October 2017

No sign of Tiger at Riviera but Harrington puts neck on line

Ireland's Pádraig Harrington. Photo: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Ireland's Pádraig Harrington. Photo: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Liam Kelly

Liam Kelly

Ireland's Pádraig Harrington has an early start in the tournament where the host has been marked absent - the $7million Genesis Open at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, California.

Harrington's tee time for round one is 7.11am local time (3.11pm Irish time) in the company of Si Woo Kim of South Korea and 2009 Open champion Stewart Cink.

Credit to the three-time Major champion. He is ready to tee it up despite pressing concerns about the mystery neck injury which has been bothering him for over two months.

Harrington sought medical advice early in the week and has had tests done seeking to identify the exact cause of the problem. He hopes to know more very soon, but in the meantime will carry on as scheduled.

The same cannot be said for Tiger Woods, whose Foundation is the major beneficiary of the charitable fundraising at this prestigious event.

Woods opted out of a planned media conference at which he obviously would have been asked for updates on his progress, particularly after his withdrawal prior to round two of the Dubai Desert Classic two weeks ago due to 'back spasms'.

The same reason was advanced for cancelling his media conference. Inevitably, the absence of Woods gives rise to further speculation as to his immediate and long-term future.

Harrington commented some months ago that the toughest aspect for Woods on his comeback from a series of back surgeries would be the intense scrutiny on every shot and every round he played.

Now the Woods 'back spasm absence' is causing as much, if not more, discussion in regular and social media circles.

The 14-time Major winner cannot seem to find solace inside or outside the ropes just now, despite a vast amount of goodwill from his professional peers and from golf fans around the world who would love to see him back as serious contender for titles once again.

Recently Rory McIlroy revealed in a 'Sunday Independent' interview that he would regularly get texts from Woods in the early hours of the morning - an insight that reminds us that 'being' Tiger Woods is not as glamorous as it might seem.

McIlroy said of Tiger: "He's thoughtful. He's smart. He can't sleep, so that's all he does - he reads stuff and educates himself on everything. But he struggles to sleep, which I think is an effect of overtraining. He'd be texting me at four o'clock in the morning: 'Up lifting. What are you doing?'"

The reaction in his back that keeps him from sitting in a chair for 15 minutes extolling the virtues of the work his Foundation does, and welcoming all the players and fans to Riviera, must seriously add to Woods' insomnia.

Out on the course, a top-quality field including title holder Bubba Watson, Jordan Spieth, Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, Justin Rose, and our own Harrington, Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell will keep the galleries entertained over the next few days.

The World Super 6

Live, Sky Sports 4, 5.00am

Genesis Open

Live, Sky Sports 4, 7.00pm

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