Pádraig Harrington holed out from 161 yards from the rough for an eagle two to get back to level par before darkness ended what was an up-and-down 2015 debut for the Dubliner in the Waste Management Phoenix Open in Arizona.
On a day when Tiger Woods did well to shoot a two over 73, his worst opening round to a season in his professional career, Harrington looked to be heading for an over par effort himself until he made a spectacular eagle two at the 475 yard eighth at TPC Scottsdale
It got him back to tied 65th on even par after what was a roller-coaster start to the year in which he hit fewer than half his fairways and only seven of 17 greens before bad light stopped play.
Woods had an even more torrid time as he struggled off the tee and arounds the greens, slipping to four over after four holes and five over after 11 play before he made a tap in eagle at the par-five 13th and birdied the driveable 17th en route to a two over 73.
If he has the chipping or pitching yips, Woods wasn't admitting it, as the PGA Tour's Sean Martin reported:
He said he struggled to trust his shallower swing plane that he has adopted since he began working with swing consultant Chris Como.
“I’m so shallow, I pick it a lot,” Woods said. “This is a totally different release pattern, and it takes time to be committed to it, especially when you have to shape shots. … It’s going to take time to get the feel of my hands, where they need to be throughout the entire swing.”
Woods hit driver nine times Thursday, but hit just one fairway and drove the green at 17. Many of his misses were well right of the fairway. He showed frustration after hitting a high slice some 50 yards right of the fairway at the par-5 15th. He gripped each end of the club and pressed it against his lips. When his wedge shot on that hole landed 40 feet from the hole, he recoiled and violently swung his club through the air.
He showed little confidence in his short game after chunking multiple chips in December at the Hero World Challenge. He seemed to be facing straightforward chip shots on Nos. 1 and 4, but used an iron to hit a bump-and-run both times, even though he wasn’t far off the green. They were the type of shots most players would instinctively grab a wedge to hit.
“Some of my shots were into the grain with tight pins, and either I’ll flop it or bump it,” Woods said. “I chose to bump it.”
His chip shot on No. 2 ran well past the hole, and he flubbed a chip on the par-5 third hole. He also hit a seemingly simple chip shot thin on the ninth green, the ball rolling through the putting surface.
As an ultimate sign that he didn’t trust his chipping, he used putter when his ball lay 20 feet short of the seventh green.
Harrington also struggled with his long game early on and according to Shotlink, he hit just one fairway and one green in regulation over his first five holes. He parred them all, however, then birdied the par-five 15th (his sixth) and parred his way to the turn.
At one under par, he was six shots off the pace set by clubhouse leader Ryan Palmer (64), who led by one from Keegan Bradley and Bubba Watson, who posted 65s.
Forced to chip and putt for his par four at the first, Harrington dropped his first shot of the day at the second when he bunkered his approach from the fairway.
he holed a 25 footer for a birdie two at the fourth to get to one under for the round again but made a double bogey six the next when he found the desert left off the tee and could only advance the ball 50 feet before taking three to get down from short of the green.
When he missed a four footer for par at the par-three seventh after missing the green, he was suddenly two over with two to play when he rescued the situation by holing out from 161 yards from the left rough for an eagle two at the 475-yard eighth.
He will resume his opening round tied for 65th with only the ninth hole to play.
Meanwhile, West Waterford's Seamus Power did not make the start he was hoping for on his full Web.com Tour debut in Panama.
The former Irish Youths champion shot a four over 74 to end the day tied for 107th in the Panama Claro Championship at Panama Golf Club in Panama City.
He made just one birdie and bogeyed two of his last three holes and trails leader Scott Parel (65) by nine.