Welcome glimpses of life in old dog Harrington
Just when you think about giving up on him, he does this. It's the hope that would kill you.
Padraig Harrington arrived in Texas last Wednesday on the back of six missed cuts in 10 PGA starts and no form to speak of.
He'd been talking about his game being in decent shape and feeling like he wasn't far away, but he's been talking like that for some time now – years in fact. He had dropped out of the world top 200 and there wasn't much to suggest the Byron Nelson Championship would herald any major upturn in fortunes.
But from nowhere, he churned out three consecutive rounds in the 60s and headed into Sunday two shots off the lead. Not since the summer of 2012 had he managed three consecutive rounds in the 60s. And it had been seven months since two consecutive rounds in the 60s.
And in the most Harrington-esque style imaginable, he came off the course on Saturday evening, with a 66, and proclaimed himself unhappy with his play.
One had to laugh at the wild, intricate brilliance of his mind – he said it felt reminiscent of his Major-winning years; he finished each round two to three shots better off than he deserved.
Perhaps the most pleasing aspect of the week is that his putting stats were all strong.On Sunday, he was shaky off the tee, with just four fairways hit, but his putting stroke held up.
And so now what are we left to think? It's too soon to draw any broad conclusions about Harrington being 'back'. And Wentworth, this week, is not a course he has performed well on previously, so we may not see the momentum spill over instantly.
But suddenly his talk of being 'close' feels much more substantial and less obligatory. Harrington has always talked about the game in terms of cycles: peaks followed inevitably by troughs. This has been a never-ending trough. Now just when all seemed lost, we see our first concrete glimpse of life in the old dog yet.