Padraig Harrington has been handed the chance to complete some “unfinished business” and add the $1.35 million PGA Grand Slam of Golf to his CV next week.
An ankle injury has forced Open champion Ernie Els to pull out of the annual 36-hole clash of the season’s major winners at Bermuda’s Port Royal Golf Course. And the 41-year old Dubliner Harington has jumped at the chance to join Masters champion Bubba Watson, US Open winner Webb Simpson and 2011 US PGA champion Bradley Keegan - a replacement for Rory McIlroy - in an event where the winner gets $600,000.
“I definitely feel like I have some unfinished business in the Grand Slam,” said Harrington, who has pulled out of next week’s BMW Masters in Shanghai to compete in Bermuda on Tuesday and Wednesday with second place worth $300,000, third place $250,000 and fourth place $200,000.
The PGA of America revealed that Harrington was offered the chance to play after “second and third alternates, Graeme McDowell and Tiger Woods, were unavailable.”
“Angel Cabrera finished birdie-eagle to force a playoff in 2007 and then won at the third extra hole. And I can’t even remember much about finishing second to Jim Furyk in 2008 [he lost in a play-off again, to an eagle at the first extra hole].”
World No 54 Harrington could have secured a return to the top 50 with a top 10 finish in Shanghai next week.
But while he cannot now qualify for the following week’s WGC-HSBC Champions in China, he says returning to the top 50 by the end of the year is not a priority.
“I still have the Barclays Singapore Open and the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai and I may play Hong Kong,” he said.
“I’m already in all the majors and nearly all big events next year [thanks to his five-year exemption for winning the 2008 US PGA] so the only early season one I’m not in yet is the WGC-Cadillac Championship in Miami and I have until March to make the top 50 for that one.”
While Harrington has gone two years without a win of any description and four years with a victory on either the PGA or the European Tour, he insists his game is better than ever and just needs to get more comfortable in the greens to return to his best.
He said: “It’s been a good season but it would be nice to win before I have a nine-week break.
“I still have another three events, four if I play Hong Kong.
“I’ve probably been trying a little too hard but I feel my game is better than ever and it’s just a matter of getting the breaks in any given week.”
Harrington had a good season in the majors, finishing eighth in the Masters and fourth in the US Open before coming home 39th in The Open and 18th in the US PGA.