It’s a sign of the times with Padraig Harrington these days that the most eye-catching thing about his play in the first two rounds of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational was the strip of blue tape adorning his right arm.
Afflicted with tennis elbow throughout his career, Harrington dismissed the “dead” arm feeling he has when he wakes up in the morning as nothing more than a typical golfer’s “niggle” and not in the least bit debilitating when it comes to hitting a golf ball.
Of course, the Dubliner has the best medical advice at his disposal and his “physio”, the Australian Dr Dale Richardson, has opted to treat Harrington with something called SpiderTech kinesio tape, which he explained, “basically stimulates the activity of some of the muscles that are being switched off at the moment. It’s designed to give a neurological change to the area.”
Whatever about Harrington’s physical state, he neurologically switched off when asked about the level par 70 he shot at a muggy Firestone Country Club yesterday,
“I holed some putts and putted well all the way through so I was happy with that,” he said after using the blade 27 times. “It is what it is. I can’t tell you any different. What can I say?”
Still working without a coach, he hit seven of 14 fairways and nine of 14 greens before heading into lunch, immersed deep in the pack on one-over par.
In fact, his haul of six birdies and seven bogeys in 36 holes says just about everything one might need to know about his game.
A pessimist would see the bottle as half empty after yesterday’s round in which he got to two under par for the day with seven to play but then bogeyed the 14th after driving into sand and dropped another shot at his nemesis hole, the par-five 16th, where he hit his lay up into the right rough and decided to bale out left of the water protected green with his 135-yard third.
His round started poorly when he drove into sand at the first and bogeyed and found sand off the tee again at the par-five second before spinning his third shot off the front of the green.
However, he soon found some rhythm and birdied the sixth from six feet, saved par from seven feet at the short seventh after carving his tee shot into greenside sand and then birdied the eighth after a magnificent 184 yard approach to 17 feet.
He bogeyed the ninth however, failing to get up and down from just short of the green after winging his tee shot into the left rough.
Back where he started the day on one over par, he holed from 22 feet for birdie at both the 10th and 11th, but finished poorly with those late bogeys and confessed that there is plenty of room for improvement before he heads to Atlanta Atheltic Club for next week’s US PGA Championship.
“If I was getting my school report it would say, ‘good but could do better,’” he said with a grin. “I have a couple more rounds to go.”
Meanwhile, Darren Clarke remained dead last in the 76-man field after a second round 74.
Playing alongside pal Tiger Woods, the Open champion complained bitterly about the quality of his putting and the waywardness of his driving over the first two days.
“I played poorly and got stuck underneath the ball the whole time,” said Clarke, who finished his day alone in 76th place on 11 over par.
“I just drove the ball poorly and putted poorly which is never good. I will try and figure it out over the next two days.
“I got way underneath it again and had no ball flight, no nothing. I will go and do a bit of work yet.”
If Clarke’s driving was bad - he hit just seven of 14 fairways - his putting was just as disappointing as he used the blade 32 times.
After Thursday’s 77, he headed to the range and putting green for nearly two hours and confessed: “Nothing would drop for me. But I can’t complain. I got all the breaks you could ask for two weeks ago (at Sandwich).”
His Open win was still acting as an anesthetic yesterday but he could not escape the fact that the 12 footer he holed for birdie at the par-three 12th was the longest putt he has holed in two days.
“I got one early but missed everything after that,” he said shortly after finishing with a double bogey at his final hole. “I think I had 34 putts again today [in reality it was 32] which doesn’t really help.”
For the record, he followed his early birdie at the 12th with bogeys at the 13th and 17th and then sandwich two more bogeys at the fourth and fifth between a two-putt birdie at the par-five second and a spectacular birdie from just two and a half feet at the sixth.
However, he then bogeyed the eighth and double bogeyed the ninth after two visits to sand.