Prayad Marksaeng celebrated the first victory by a home player in the Thailand Open for nine years by jumping into a lake. Pádraig Harrington needs to remain true to his leap of faith with his putting.
Not for the first time in the two years and four months that have elapsed since he won the most recent of his 28 professional titles, the 41-year old reportedly lost confidence on the greens when he needed a solid putting round to put himself in position to contend.
Saturday’s third round 75 - the second worst score of the day - would have hurt the Dubliner and it was no surprise to see him close with a six under 66 to clamber into a share of 34th on 14 under, 10 shots behind the tournament winner. (Click here for scores)
“Nothing much went right for Pádraig as he started with three bogeys in his first six holes and putted poorly for the day,” his official website reported on Saturday. “He will be looking for a low round on Sunday to get back in the groove!”
Putting two and two together and getting five is tempting and only the three-time major winner and his inner circle know what happens to him on the greens on days like Saturday. Confidence is everything when it comes to putting and Harrington’s is in rehab these days
By opting for spectacles in tournament play for the first time in the WGC-Cadillac Championship in Miami, he left Florida pleased that he hadn’t suffered an outlandish mis-read on the greens for the first time “in five years.” Trust is a must and that’s his greatest challenge as the clock counts down to the Masters in little more than three weeks’ time.
The swing refinements he has made over the past four and a half years are bearing fruit but without his magical putting touch, he is under crushing pressure to consistently perform at the highest level.
Whatever about the sharpness of his wedge play and chipping, it is putting that provided the comforting safety net. Tightrope walking is terrifying without one.
The most important men in his backroom team right now, apart from caddie/companion Ronan Flood and trainer Dr Liam Hennessy, are performance coach Dave Alred and his mental coach Dr Bob Rotella.
As Harrington wrote on his website before the WGC - Cadillac Championship: “I have spent a good bit of time chatting to Bob about where I am with my game and that I have been trying a bit too hard. It has been very helpful and a few things he said really hit home.”
No doubt, as he prepares for this week’s Malaysian Open, Harrington will reflect on the positives he saw in Miami and Bangkok and take a leaf or two out of Rotella’s playbook.
“Get out of results and get into process” and “Be decisive, committed and clear” are two of his favourite mantras.
Meanwhile, 47-year old Prayad closed with a 64 for a 24 under-par total and a two-shot win over Australian Scott Strange (67) with another Australian, Nick Cullen (65) three adrift in third. Six players shared fourth place, including defending champion Chris Wood (70).
The Thai golfer earned $180,000 and the coveted King’s Trophy, donated by the country’s revered monarch.
“This means so much to me,” an emotional Prayad said moments after signing his scorecard. “Yes I cried a bit … I am happy the King’s Trophy will stay in Thailand.”