After all the moaning and whining and smart alec comments about Liberty National, Padraig Harrington nailed his colours to the mast on Friday.
The Tom Kite - Bob Cupp design has been getting it in the neck this week with Tiger Woods reported to have told his pro-am playing partners: “Maybe Tom did this course before his eye operation.”
Cue Harrington with this:
"This is a phenomenal golf course. I think this is good enough for a major. This is a major golf course we are playing here. This is a superb test, really putts us right on the limit. This is exactly what we should be playing. This is an excellent golf course. There's nothing -- it may look good, but the actual layout of the golf course, it's a real test out there, and you know, at all stages, you've got to pay attention. Absolutely.
"You know, if you want us to play good golf, if you want to shoot 20-under, yeah, there's other golf courses, but it's like playing a major out there. You've got to pay attention all the time to every shot. You know, I would go the other side of that and say, you know, I'd love to see a major here in time.”
Harrington had a tough day but the dug as deep as he could to limit the damage.
“I worked hard for it,” he said after carding one birdie, three bogeys and a double bogey seven at the eighth. “I didn't play very well. It was difficult conditions, it was hard to trust it out there. You know, we are all using, certainly I am, low, spinning drivers. So when the water gets between the face and the golf ball, it can go anywhere; so it's very intimidating out there.”
Harrington had to hole a 17 footer for par at the first after bunkering his approach from the left rough. He then chipped in from cricket pitch distance - 22 yards - for a birdie from the apron of the par-three second but couldn’t save par from left of the third or from the water left of the fifth!
He made a mess of the par-five eighth, where he failed to hack back to the fairway after a pushed drive and took five to reach the green, where he two putted for a seven.
He explained: “I doubled 8 and then I'm going into 9, 10, 11 and that was a horrible stretch. I made three pars. That was the mainstay of my round, those three pars. It was a day, any hole around the golf course, if you didn't hit a good shot, you were going to struggle, even hitting good shots you were going to struggle at times. It was a tough day.”
His par at the 10th was a beauty. After another poor drive, he slashed a sand wedge out, left himself 160 yards to the pin and hit a six iron to 12 feet before holing the putt for his four.
“I am used to it, but it doesn't mean I like it,” he said of the conditions. “You know, when it rains like this at home, you stay indoors. We go to the pub or something, sit by a fire.
"You have to remember we are playing a championship golf course in tough conditions. So ultimately that's what makes it so difficult. If it was a wet day at home, I could play off the front tees or something, but that's a big golf course set up tough. Difficult conditions for a difficult course.”
Harrington’s day was summed up by the driveable, 324 yard 16th, where his drive finished in a wet spot just yards from the water. On a dry day, he would have finished up in the water right of the hole. But it plugged and stopped, leaving him only 14 yards to the pin. In two minds about what kind of shot to play, the Dubliner played neither one thing nor the other and watched his pitch fail to climb the slope. He chipped his third to 18 inches and walked off with a frustrating par.
He saved par from sand at the 17th but another drive flew left on the 18th and he signed off with a bogey.
“It's a pity, I could have done a few shots better myself and I would be smiling all afternoon rather than kind of hoping,” he said.