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García slams "handbrake" Harrington

Sergio García and Pádraig Harrington shake hands at Muirfield. Picture Eoin Clarke www.golffile.ieSergio García hammered Pádraig Harrington on the golf course - physically - then moaned about him behind his back before giving him the sympathy vote in the interview room after a round marked by slow play.

On a day when Japan’s Hideki Matsumaya was handed a one-stroke penalty and Graeme McDowell complained about stopwatch-happy referees and “unfair” bunkers, Garcia again shot from the mouth despite claiming that he’s buried the hatchet with his former Ryder Cup team mate.

As Harrington slumped to a 77 to Garcia’s 68 in yesterday’s third round, the Spaniard complained to the R&A official walking with the group about the Dubliner’s slow play just after they had been taken off the clock by referee John Paramor after two holes’ supervision.

“As soon as you tell him [he’s off the clock], it’s the automatic handbrake,” Garcia complained to the official, doing a lever-pulling gesture, as they headed to the 15th tee.

“You’re right,” the official replied with a grin.

Both García and Harrington had fallen more than a hole behind Shane Lowry and Ollie Fisher in the group ahead before they were eventually put on the clock on the par-four 12th and par-three 13th.

García clearly felt that Harrington slowed down again once Paramor disappeared in his buggy and later subtly twisted the knife into Harrington for his deliberate pace of play while still insisting that they now get on just fine despite past differences.

They buried the hatchet at the 2008 Ryder Cup in Kentucky with Harrington revealing: “Some of the lads eventually drew it out of him and he got to tell me that he really wanted to smash that putter over my head.

“That was what I really wanted to hear and, though the Ryder Cup didn’t do too much for Europe, it did do a lot for me and Sergio.”

Asked about their relationship yesterday, Garcia said: “Good, yeah. Normal. I think we both respect each other.

Pádraig Harrington had another tough day on the greens at Muirfield. Picture Eoin Clarke www.golffile.ie“We seemed to be a little bit slow out there today, but other than that it was fine.

“I felt like I was rushing quite a lot. I even played out of position probably when it wasn’t my turn, probably two or three times to try to catch up.

“But it’s difficult when it’s this breezy. If you’re not hitting the ball well, you have to think so many things.”

Harrington was still sizing up his bogey putt on the sixth green when García went to the par-three seventh and teed up his ball as Lowry and Fisher where already standing over their approaches to the eighth at this stage.

Asked if it was tough to play with a slow player, Garcia tried to be diplomatic but said: “It’s difficult with anybody that is struggling, because it’s always going to take a little bit more time.

“So I think we tried as hard as we could, both of us. And we managed to get back on time.”

Harrington was distraught after failing to make even one birdie in a 77 featuring four bogeys and a double bogey.

He didnt make even one birdie and his tally of just four birdies in three rounds - all of them two-putt efforts on par-fives - left him looking shellshocked.

Near the back of the pack on 12 over, Harrington sighed: “Obviously it’s frustrating at the moment with my game, no doubt about it.

“I don’t think I’ve made enough birdies in my last six weeks to count for one week at tournaments. None today, two yesterday, two the first day. They were all two-putts.

“If I hit it close, I missed the putt. If I hit a nice iron shot, it doesn’t seem to go close. It’s just the nature of the game.

“I have to wait until it turns. When it turns, it will seem easy. I won’t look back, and I won’t remember this run, for sure.”

Shane Lowry found the greens a major challenge in the third round. Picture Fran Caffrey www.golffile.ieShane Lowry also complained about his lack of luck on the greens as he shot a four over 75 to slip to 10 over.

“It’s tough out there. I played alright but when you are not holing putts, that’s the key,” Lowry said. “Four birdies in three rounds doesn’t really cut it.”

Lowry birdied the second but bogeyed the third and then lost it briefly when he racked up a double bogey six at the tough sixth before dropping further shots at the 12th and 17th.

“It was disappointing to bogey 17 becuase I got a bit fortunate off the tee but it’s another round [in a major] and more experience and I have another round to go tomorrow.

“It’s just a tough golf course. I am happy with the way I am playing but I just need to start holing a few putts.”

The tee shot at the sixth has cause Lowry some problems this week and afer bunkering it on Saturday, he thinned his recovery into the deep rough and then bunkered his third.

His biggest problem has been handling the extreme firmness of the course and the quick, sloping greens.

“The greens are so slpoey. Even the 18th there. You hit a good tee shot and have a wedge in. If you pitch your wedge two yards too far you are going through the green and are left with a tough up and down. If you hit it 30 feet short it is a tough two-putt.

“Even the second hole, I hit a nice five iron and a lovely wedge to six feet and you are dribbling your birdie putt, even from six feet. If you get on the wrong side of the hole, good luck from there.”