From Brian Keogh at Bethpage
Padraig Harrington found an unlikely ally in Tiger Woods just 48 hours before they battle for US Open glory in New York.
The Dubliner has been struggling to bed in some swing changes that have left his fans mystified after his triple major winning feats over the last two years.
But despite watching Harrington miss six cuts already this season, Woods reckons that the quest for perfection could signal even better times ahead for Ireland's top player.
Set to tee it up with Harrington and Masters champion Angel Cabrera for the first two rounds, Woods said: “After I won the Masters by 12, I changed my swing. People thought I was crazy for that. I said just wait. Just be patient with it. It will come around. And in '99 and 2000 I won 17 times.
“So sometimes you have to take a step or two back before you can make a giant leap forward. And that's the hard part, sticking through those periods.”
Harrington has no problem admitting that he is struggling with his game this season and thanks his lucky stars that he’s a golfer not a soccer player.
But he believes patience will pay off in the end as he tries to make his swing even better than the one that gave him three of the last seven major.
“My fans will have to be just like me and stay patient,” said the reigning Open and US PGA champion. “That’s where I am very lucky. I am self-managed - I am not like a football team.
“If I was a football team I would be on the subs’ bench at this stage. But as I am self-managed I can go out shape my own destiny.
“I have to be patient and wait for it to turn around. If it was a different game that would be a different story. Thankfully I am the boss when it comes to my golf. I have to stay patient and I expect everyone else to do the same.”
Woods knows that Harrington has the determination to grin out a score on a course that will play long and tough after recent rain.
He said: “Anyone can do it when they're hot. But to grind it out and suck it up and get it done somehow and turn it around, that could cost you a tournament, a round that keeps you in the tournament, those are testing times. Plus everyone's always asking you about it, too.
“Every round you finish, you complete, someone asks you about your swing changes, is it worth it, blah, blah, blah and you keep getting it all the time until you turn it around.”
Playing with Woods will be a two-edged sword for Harrington, who will be in the spotlight of the golfing world for two days.
But he is looking forward to the challenge, explaining: “Both the guys are good to play with, easy to play with, so I'm happy with that draw.
“Obviously I have to manage the fact that there will be a bigger gallery than normal. There will be a bit more of a buzz about it, and that can be a positive and a little bit of a negative.
“You have to get used to having 50 photographers trying to take a photograph and things like that. You're on tee boxes waiting to hit your tee shot and you actually have to wait for the photographers to settle.
“There's no negative about that, you just have to accept it and work with it, and it takes a while to get used to that. You become used to it.”
Harrington just wants to find some form on a course that will test the best to the limit.
He doesn’t know what to expect but hopes for the best, insisting: “I haven't played very well and certainly haven't made things happen.
“But I have to assume that my swing will be there on Thursday and just stick with what I am doing. As we say at home, when the storm comes it is too late to get up and patch the roof. So I've got to accept what I've got this week."
From Brian Keogh at Bethpage