Padraig Harrington does not believe his season has been a complete disaster.
He missed the cut in three of the four majors and dropped from fifth in the world at the start of the year to 22nd heading into this week’s Nedbank Golf Challange. But he says he’ll try to remember 2010 for his win in the Iskandar Johor Open in Malaysia, his rash of top-10 finishes and his role in Europe’s Ryder Cup victory.
Confessing that he is disappointed only by his failure to live up to his own high hopes, he said: “If this is the worst it’s going to get, I’ll be a very happy man. I’ve had one win, the Ryder Cup, plenty of top 10s. It’s been an OK year, but it’s just frustrating because I have high expectations.”
Harrington’s performance in the $5 million Nedbank Gold Challenge has been a microcosm of his play this season. He opened with a six under 66 to take the lead but fled to the range straight away to work on his game after a less than perfect performance from tee to green.
In round two he lost his short game touch completely, missed even more fairways en route to a level par 72 and finished the day tied for third, six shots behind world No 1 Lee Westwood, who stormed away from the field thanks to an immaculate, eight under par 64.
Westwood leads by three shots on 12 under par from Ryder Cup team mate Ross Fisher (68) another three shots adrift on six-under alongside Italy’s Edoardo Molinari (67) and the evergreen Spaniard Miguel Angel Jiménez.
“I’ve been in good form at times. It’s not feeling too good this week, though,” Harrington said as he reflected on his year and his week so far. “I’ve been fairly optimistic about where my game is going, but I wouldn’t feel too optimistic for the next couple of days.”
Knowing his game is far from sharp, Harrington confessed that if he wins this week, he will have to win ugly.
“I don’t believe I’m out of it, but I certainly have to play well over the next two days,” he said after a round that featured 31 putts. “I need to find something.”
Westwood knows that he will finish the year as world No 1 , no matter what happens this week. But he appears determined to deny Tiger Woods to temporarily regain his place at the top.
If Woods wins the Chevron World Challenge, he will return to No 1 for a short while providing Westwood does not finish first or second at the Gary Player Country Club.
But the Worksop man showed few signs of weakness that he is about to back off after carding eight birdies in an impressive display on Friday.
“I was feeling a little bit rusty, but I’ve got into the swing of things now,” Westwood said with classic understatement. “Today was much more like me, getting the most out of the round.”