Friday 24 November 2017

Old-style putter to the rescue as Harrington's driving goes belly-up

Padraig Harrington opted for a more conventional putter at the KLM Open
Padraig Harrington opted for a more conventional putter at the KLM Open

Padraig Harrington left the controversial belly-putter out of his bag in the first round of the KLM Open and further cheered purists by performing nicely on the greens at Kennemer with a conventional 'Ghost Spider'.

He needed to! Sadly, Harrington's long game left a lot to be desired yesterday and it required two nice birdies at 17 and 18 to salvage a one-over-par 71 as many of his European Tour colleagues took advantage of good scoring conditions.

Miguel Angel Jimenez, playing in the same three-ball as Harrington, posted a career low 64 on Harry Colt's intriguing Dutch creation, which left the Spaniard (49) one ahead of Damien McGrane at the head of affairs.

McGrane sparkled on one of his favourite stomping grounds for an opening 65 that earned him a share of second with Pablo Larrazabal, David Howell, Gary Orr, Fabrizio Zanotti and Robert Allenby.

Harrington, on-course ambassador for world ruling body the R&A, is an outspoken supporter of the decision to outlaw anchoring of long putters from January 2016.

So, many were shocked when he took up the belly-putter at May's Wells Fargo Championship after being struck by what he once called the "heebie-jeebies" on the green.

Four months on, his stroke is back the groove. Which was just as well yesterday as Harrington polished off a series of clutch putts, not least a six-footer at 17 and eight-footer at 18.

His wayward play was summed up by a calamitous triple-bogey seven on 10 during a short, drenching squall.

When his tee shot skidded right, Harrington got a decent lie in the trees. Still, he carved his next into deep trouble and, after taking a penalty drop away from a bush, the Dubliner hit through the green and into sand. He needed two to get out of the trap, his ball rolling seven feet past the cup, leaving a decent putt for his seven.

Kevin Phelan hit the ground running with birdie on two of his first three holes as a pro, but last weekend's Walker Cup clearly took its toll as he dropped four shots in his last five for a 71 to share 82nd with Harrington and Peter Lawrie.

Paul McGinley finished brightly with a birdie at the last for a two-under 68, one better than his playing companion Shane Lowry, while Simon Thornton shot 70.

KLM Open,

Live, Sky Sports 1, 1.0/5.30

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