Padraig Harrington will begin his 2016 campaign in Hawaii after undergoing surgery to repair the meniscus tear in his right knee just last Thursday.
The Dubliner, 44, made sure he spent three months working on “pre-habilitation” to build up the muscle mass around the knee, ensuring a faster recovery time so he will be ready to make his 2016 debut in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions at Kapalua from January 7-10.
It will be the three-time major winner’s first competitive appearance in Hawaii, where he is also expected to play the following week’s Sony Open at Waialae.
While Harrington was eligible to play in the Tournament of Champions in 2006, 2008 and 2009 following winning seasons the previous year, the Hawaii event came too early for him and he preferred to enjoy Christmas and his traditional, long winter break before cranking up again in mid to late January in Abu Dhabi or even early February, as he did in Phoenix this year.
Having failed to qualify for the European Tour’s Final Series, he is already into the fourth week of his winter break and reflecting on what he regards as a winning season following his playoff victory over Patrick Berger at the Honda Classic on March 2.
He missed 12 missed cuts from 27 starts and had another erratic year on the greens but he also led The Open at St Andrews early in the final round, only to lose a ball in the gorse to the right of the sixth hole, eventually finishing tied 20th.
Harrington still can’t believe he lost a ball when leading the Open — “We were looking in the wrong place” — and plans to leave his phone turned on in future so that friends and family can call and tell him exactly where to look.
“I’ve checked and it’s within the rules,” he said. “It might be against European Tour regulations about when you can and can’t use your phone and that might lead to a fine, but it’s not against the rules of golf, just as it’s not against the rules to use your phone to check the cut or to use the compass.”
Checking the weather app might be in breach but Harrington already has his weather eye open when it comes to the "West Coast Swing" on the PGA Tour. El Niño is due and he’s not prepared to get caught.
“I am probably not going to play Farmers (at Torrey Pines, Jan 28-31) because the forecast is bad for that side of the country,” he said of his decision to play Phoenix, Pebble Beach and Riviera before heading to Florida to defend his Honda Classic title.
“Pebble Beach is beautiful but it is a tough week if it is wet and windy and cold all week. LA is the same. It can be absolutely stunning, but if El Niño is there it can be tough and they are pretty sure from the warmth of the water in the Pacific that it is pretty guaranteed that it is coming next year.”
Relive Harrington's final day at the 2015 Honda Classic (2hrs 52 mins)
Padraig Harrington’s early season schedule
- JAN 7 - 10 Hyundai Tournament of Champions, Plantation Course at Kapalua, Kapalua, Maui,
- JAN 14 - 17 Sony Open in Hawaii, Waialae CC, Honolulu, HI (unconfirmed)
- FEB 4 - 7 Waste Management Phoenix Open, TPC Scottsdale, Scottsdale, AZ
- FEB 11 - 14 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, Pebble Beach GL, Pebble Beach, CA
- FEB 18 - 21 Northern Trust Open, Riviera CC, Pacific Palisades, CA
- FEB 25 - 28 The Honda Classic, PGA National (Champion), Palm Beach Gardens, FL.