Harrington recalls yips nightmare: "It was like an electric eel in my hand"

Harrington recalls yips nightmare: "It was like an electric eel in my hand"
    Padraig Harrington lines up a putt on the 17th green during the final round of the 2012 US Open at Olympic Club. He holed it but it was still a year of putting yips. Photo Eoin Clarke/  www.golffile.ie

 Padraig Harrington lines up a putt on the 17th green during the final round of the 2012 US Open at Olympic Club. He holed it but it was still a year of putting yips. Photo Eoin Clarke/ www.golffile.ie

Pádraig Harrington will resume his bid to get back into the game's elite when he tees it up alongside Jaime Donaldson, the man who outputted him to win the 2012 Irish Open, in the Volvo Golf Champions in Durban this week. The Dubliner insists that he did not have the yips last season but it remains to be seen if he is fully cured.

As he explained to Newstalk's Joe Molloy in a Christmas interview, the feeling of panic he experienced as he realised as he was taking the putter away that he had no idea what he was trying to do, is something he never wants to experience again.

Having spoken to yips expert Bernhard Langer at the 2012 Masters, Harrington would love to sit down with the German maestro for another chat. Doing it at Augusta this year will require Harrington - down three place to 134th in the first world ranking of 2014 - getting back into the world's Top-50 or winning a PGA Tour event by April. 

That he has a handle on what was going wrong is encouraging, as he told Newstalk:

"It ultimately came down to [the fact that] I was struggling reading the greens. And as I am doing my preparation, as I am over the ball - all the way through - I am still deciding on what I am trying to do. And ultimately, when I went to hit the putt, I had no decision made. I had no preparation done and all of a sudden anything could come out. I had no concept of what I was trying to do and as a consequence, you fear what is going to happen. It was just a simple, routine, process thing. I know that if I do X, Y and Z it doesn't appear. So it is all about having that decision made early so that I can do my preparation properly. 

"I did talk to Bernhard Langer at the Masters in 2012 but I'd like to go back now and talk to him again. From his point of view, he had to just get it in his head that he could miss. The clarity for him was knowing, I can miss. It didn't have to be 100 percent. I putted okay at that Masters that year and I was in contention - the one where I missed all those putts on the back nine. I didn't hole that many putts but I didn't putt badly in the sense that I hit really bad putts. I've found that I'd be feeling great on the greens and just hit a putt like that. 

"[How does it feel over the ball?] It didn't feel so bad at all until I took the putter away. Then it was just panic. I couldn't get the putter back to the ball quick enough. It was just horrible for a good putter to feel like that and for me it was the lack of understanding why. I'd be walking in to the putt feeling pretty positive and then it would just jump out of nowhere. 

"I used a long putter this year and it was fine. The long putter was part of the solution to it but it was only in the last three months that I truly realised, even though I wasn't having the yips this year (2013), that that is where it was coming from. I hit a few putts like that out of the blue and it came back to not having made a decision and questioning my reading of the greens. I wouldn't be nervous all the way up until I pulled the putter away and all of a sudden, it was like an electric eel in my hand."

Harrington is joined in the 36-man field in Durban by Russian Open winner Michael Hoey, Saint Omer champion Simon Thornton and former Open winner Darren Clarke