Sport Golf

Thursday 18 January 2018

Padraig a contender after adapting to belly-putter, insists Els

Karl MacGinty

LIKE or loathe long-putters, it was heartening to see Padraig Harrington emerge from a dark tunnel in Memphis.

After a hellish 18 months, Harrington putted with much of the aplomb of old at the FedEx St Jude Classic as he climbed into joint-10th with weekend rounds of 65 and 71, despite wayward shooting off the tee.

It's just five weeks since the Dubliner took up the belly-putter, and the controversial 'anchoring' method appears to have worked.

"By going to a new method, he obviously had a putting problem," said Ernie Els, who believes Harrington could contend at Merion.

"I see he played good last week. He's experienced and if he gets sharp, can win at any point."

Anchoring will be banned in 2016 but four-time Major winner Els believes he and other fans of long-putters should readapt with relative ease once confidence has been restored.

Like Harrington, Els consulted a sports vision specialist to help him read greens. Yet he admits: "It was more of a psychological thing for me. I was in such a state, I don't think I could have won the Open with a shorter putter.

"But I'm in a much better place now and feel I can get back into the short putter in the near future."

A return to winning ways would permit Harrington to throw away his controversial new 'crutch' long before 2016.

Irish Independent

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