Wayward Harrington suffers in Mexican jungle

Wayward Harrington suffers in Mexican jungle
El Camaleón in Mexico

El Camaleón in Mexico

Padraig Harrington might have accepted that he must stop being so hard on himself but the loss of a favourite three wood didn't help and he dropped five shots in his last seven holes in his early morning opening round at the OHL Classic at Mayakoba in Mexico.

The Dubliner, 43, was two under par after making nine pars and two birdies following a 6.55am tee time. But he  bogeyed the 12th at the Greg Norman designed El Camaleón course and then had two penalty drops (according to ShotLink) and ran up a double bogey seven at the 13th before dropping back-to-back shots at the 15th and 16th.

It all added up to a three over 74 for the world No. 353, who had to replace his cracked three-wood in practice and saw plenty of the jungle, hitting just five fairways, and ended the day nine strokes behind leaders Will MacKenzie, Robert Garrigus, Steve Wheatcroft, Hudson Swafford, Tony Finau and Daniel Berger in Playa del Carmen.

The sextet of leaders fired six under 65s to lead by a stroke from another 14 players that include the likes of Davis Love III, Charley Hoffman and Aaron Baddeley.

This is Harrington's final event of the year on the PGA Tour, where he has played 19 events covering the 2013-14 and 2014-15 campaigns.

It's also his 31st official event of the year — the most he's played since he totalled 31 starts in 1997  — but he's not finished yet with at least one event to go, possibly two.

The triple major winner will play the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola at the Lost City Golf Club in Sun City, South Africa, from 20-23 November.

The final leg in the global Gary Player Invitational series will see Grand Slam champion Player "lead a field of top professionals and an array of celebrities and business leaders in Africa's premier charity golf tournament."

According to the organisers:

Former Manchester United soccer legend Andy Cole has already confirmed his place amongst the celebrities in this tournament. He will be joined by SA cricketer Herschelle Gibbs, who is making his third appearance in the Gary Player Invitational presented by Coca-Cola, Spanish model and actress Inés Sastre, and actress Vanessa Haywood. As part of the spirit of this Union of Golf and Giving, they will all be seeking to help add to the over R600 million the GPI series has already raised for various charities supported by The Player Foundation.
Harrington, winner of the 2007 and 2008 Open Championship and 2008 PGA Championship, joins 1991 Masters champion and former Ryder Cup captain Ian Woosnam, European Tour campaigners Ignacio Garrido, Robert Rock and Thomas Levet, and Ladies European Tour professionals Carly Booth and Amy Boulden in the professional field.
"We have been privileged to have had such incredible support from professional golfers over the years, and this year is no exception. It is really going to be a treat for our celebrities and business leaders to play alongside Major champions and multiple tournament winners," said golf icon Gary Player.
Harrington's place in the tournament is certainly timely as the former European Tour Order of Merit winner, European Tour Golfer of the Year and PGA Tour Player of the Year seeks to draw from the inspirational Player as he attempts to work his way back up the world rankings.
"I've got to get inside the top 15 in the world to make the Olympics in 2016. That's the big goal. I really feel good about my game, so I believe I can do it. I'm in a good frame of mind. What you've done in the past doesn't make much difference to the future. You need to be working on things in the present. I'm quite excited about my mental game at the moment," said Harrington, the vice-captain for the European team in the 2014 Ryder Cup.

Harrington may yet find yet another event to play before the end of a year that he's already described as "terrible."

He confessed on his Facebook page earlier this week that he's been getting too negative and down on himself, even if he hits a decent shot.

"As bad as my weekend was there was actually some good to come from it," wrote of his performance in the Sanderson Farms Championship, where he shot two 76s at the weekend (he had a nine on one hole on Sunday) to finish tied 73.  

"I noticed during my round on Sunday that I am being very hard on myself.  I am finding something wrong with nearly every shot I hit, even if it's a good one.  When I think back to my play over the years this is the total opposite to what I have always done.  

"I have always been someone that has been able to see the good in everything.  When I noticed this and got back to my old self, I felt a lot better about things."

Harrington problems off the tee have been evident in recent weeks but he wasn't helped in Mexico by the loss of a favourite three wood on a course where driving accuracy is key.

"When I was out on the course I noticed that my three wood wasn't really going well. I had a hit a few funny ones with it last week too and when I looked at it I noticed that it was cracked.  When I got to the turn I went back to the range to test a couple of different ones. Unfortunately they didn't have any like the one I have been using, but I managed to get one that goes pretty good although is a little upright for me.  I then played the back nine."

learly, he wasn't comfortable with his game and sounded concerned about the trouble lining the fairways.

"On Wednesday I played the morning pro am. I struggled a bit on the course in terms of my strike and never felt comfortable in terms of the starting line of my shots.  After the pro am I hit some balls to try and figure it out, but I was pulling some and then over-cutting others, which generally means that I am peeling out of it too early.  I worked on this and it seemed to help a bit with my fades, but my draws still weren't great.  A lot of times I wouldn't feel as bad about it but this week, with there being so much trouble off the tee, you want to be in control of your ball.
"I like the course a lot but I would like to be hitting it a bit better.  I will miss my old three wood too as it was like a second driver for me."