Surgery won't hurt Harrington's hopes
TRIPLE Major champion Pádraig Harrington can clearly see Pebble Beach through the keyhole.
Harrington is confident keyhole surgery on his right knee in Dublin tomorrow week will not affect his prospects in next month's US Open at Pebble.
The Irishman nicked a cartilage while playing indoor football with a few mates last Christmas and, after an MRI scan on the joint last Friday, was advised by his surgeon to get it sorted sooner rather than later.
"It's having no current effect on my golf, bar not being able to squat on it when reading putts," Harrington explained. "But it affects my training and, obviously, I don't want it to get any worse."
One might usually expect a Major championship contender of Harrington's standing to postpone such a procedure until the end of the season.
Yet with the Ryder Cup looming in the autumn of a long, hard year, he clearly is not prepared to take any chances with his fitness.
Harrington will play in this week's showpiece BMW PGA Championship on the refurbished West Course at Wentworth but the Dubliner, inevitably, has cancelled tentative plans to tee it up at the Welsh Open in Celtic Manor just nine days after surgery.
Yet he fully expects to play his usual warm-up event for the US Open, the St Jude Classic, the following week, insisting: "there is little risk to the op. I'm well pre-habed already and rugby players have played 10 days after the same procedure," added Harrington. "It's a pity (to miss the Welsh Open) because I liked my chances on the course."
PETER HANSON showed remarkable strength of character by overcoming a couple of body blows on the back nine at Pula Golf Club yesterday to force the Mallorca Open into extra-time and then beat Spain's Alejandro Canizares by one stroke on the first tie hole.
Hanson banked €133,330 for his third European Tour victory, but earns untold respect for the way in which he rebounded from an unsettling rules transgression on the back nine to complete a final round 66, matching the excellent closing effort of Canizares (27) as they both tied on six-under par.
The Swede was blissfully unaware he'd made a double-hit with his wedge as he played a shot out of the fringe rough by the 12th green until informed by European Tour Chief Referee John Paramor a couple of holes later.
The breach had been picked-up by Sky TV's super-slow motion camera and broadcast live. Hanson, visibly nonplussed by news that he'd inadvertently played an extra shot, then hit his ball into an unplayable lie in a bush on 14.
Indeed, a 25-foot putt he made for bogey there would be as important as the birdies at 15 and 17 which helped Hanson come from two behind over the last four holes and force sudden-death.
"It feels absolutely fantastic to win after all that happened," stated Hanson, who agreed the referee's verdict had been right after seeing video footage of the incident himself. "Sometimes it's good to have these fantastic cameras and sometimes it's bad ... but it was fair."
The pair had both been two behind at the start of the final round, but leaders Pelle Edberg and Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano slumped to four-over-par 74s.
Victory could lift Hanson back into the world's top 50 and if he's there next Monday, it'll save him from having to qualify for the US Open. Last year he holed-in-one in a play-off to make it to Bethpage.
Athlone's Colin Moriarty closed with a one-under-par 69 to earn €5,620 in a tie for 32nd on seven-over. Damien McGrane also shot 69 as he finished tied 44th on eight-over (€4,240), while Paul McGinley's 73 left him with a share of 63rd on 15-over and a cheque for €2,000.
LAURA DAVIES (46) fired a closing four-under-par 68 to claim victory at the UniCredit Ladies German Open in Munich. It was the English legend's 74th career victory and second on the Ladies European Tour this season.
The Irish flattered to deceive in Munich. Alison Walshe tied 14th and earned €4,702 on two-under (nine behind Davies) after a closing 74, while a lacklustre 77 sent Rebecca Coakley tumbling into a share of 31st (€3,119) on one-over. Tara Delaney's 74 left her in a tie for 49th (€1,518) on five-over and Hazel Kavanagh earned €1,320 in 54th after a 78.