Monday 20 January 2020

Padraig Harrington faces uphill battle after hairy round

William S Callahan

TOP marks to Padraig Harrington for the rapidity with which he's grown his Movember moustache -- the facial hair he sported at Sentosa yesterday was of Hulk Hogan, Merv Hughes or Wild Bill Hickok proportions.

Sadly, however, the Dubliner's golf was even more hairy, a first round 74 leaving Harrington with a real uphill battle to avoid an unhappy hat-trick of missed cuts at the storm-hit Singapore Open.

A fortnight after breaking his two-year victory drought at the prestigious PGA Grand Slam of Golf, Harrington returned to earth with a bump, failing to make even one birdie on the Serapong's heavily-grained and perplexing greens.

He'd pocketed $600,000 (€470,000) for his 36 holes eclipse of three fellow Major Champions in Bermuda, but Harrington looked fidgety and out of sorts as he stumbled to three-over, eight shy of Thomas Bjorn's clubhouse lead.

At least he completed 18 holes. A tropical thunderstorm forced play to a halt in mid-afternoon, requiring half of the field, including Rory McIlroy, to return early today to try and complete their first round.

McIlroy skipped last week's HSBC Champions to watch Caroline Wozniacki play the WTA's Tournament of Champions in Bulgaria and his Danish girlfriend is returning the compliment in Singapore.

However, Wozniacki saw McIlroy play just eight holes before the hooter sounded. The World No 1 wasn't at his best as he bogeyed the first, rallied with birdies at four and five before a dropped shot at eight brought his day's work to an untidy conclusion.

Yet McIlroy's efforts to top the European Tour money list received a boost as his playing companion Louis Oosthuizen, needing to win this week to keep his Race to Dubai hopes alive, slumped to two-over following a double-bogey seven at seven.

With every likelihood of the tournament being reduced to 54 holes for the second year in succession, the odds are against the South African catching the early leaders.

After playing his opening 12 holes in par, Harrington's frustration was compounded by a double-bogey seven on the fourth, where he pulled his tee shot way left of the fairway into the water.


Harrington hit his tee shot at nine into left rough, then missed the green right, making bogey out of a difficult lie to bring a morale-sapping day to a lacklustre conclusion.

Shane Lowry was one-under through nine when the storm hit, by which point Michael Hoey and Peter Lawrie were already in the clubhouse after one-over-par 72s.

Edoardo Molinari capped a fine comeback after a disastrous start by recording the first hole-in-one of his professional career on the way to posting a one-under 70.

Singapore Open,

Live, Sky Sports 2, 6.0am

Irish Independent

The Throw-In: New era for Dublin, all up for grabs in the hurling league and club final heroics

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport