Harrington looking to positives despite missed chances
Dermot Desmond and Shane Lowry look on as Pádraig Harrington lips out for birdie on the 18th at Pebble Beach

Dermot Desmond and Shane Lowry look on as Pádraig Harrington lips out for birdie on the 18th at Pebble Beach

Pádraig Harrington didn't win three majors by dwelling on the negative so it was no surprise to hear him brush off a three missed birdie chances on the last three greens in the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am.

Playing with JP McManus alongside Shane Lowry (69) and his amateur partner Dermot Desmond, Harrington posted a four under 68 to end the opening day tied for 26th, four shots off the lead held by Americans JB Holmes and Justin Hicks. (Pro-Am leaderboard | Professionals)

With temperatures in the high 70s F and with little wind to trouble them, the field made hay on the opening day with 98 players in the 156-strong field breaking par at one of the three venues they play on alternate days before Sunday's final round at Pebble Beach.

“I’d three good chances on the last three holes," said Harrington, who missed a six footer at the 16th and a 15 footer at the 17th before lipping out from six feet at the last. "It looked as if I made all three but none went in. That can happen."

Harrington spent nine seconds addressing his putt on the 18th green but whatever frustration he felt about the lip out, he was determined to keep it to himself.

"It was nice to make the birdies on 14 and 15 after the bogey [on 13]," he said of a round that began with an immaculate, three under par outward half of 33. "So it is one of those days where if I finish five under I would be very happy and I am very disappointed with four under. Surely a shot can't make that much difference over the course of 72 holes?"

The Dubliner has comfortably missed his first two cuts of the year on the PGA Tour, which is something of a disappointment following his win on the Asian Tour in his final event of 2014. 

"I'd be better off in contention," he told Sky Sports' Tim Barter, when asked about December's victory in Indonesia, which was his first for four years. "When you are in contention you have just one job and that's just to get it done.

"I would certainly find it easier if I was under that kind of pressure. I am struggling a little with my focus at times. Not in that pressure situation but it's the easy shots sometimes I struggle to execute."

Having played poorly from tee to green in Phoenix and San Diego, Harrington was far better on the Monterey Peninsula last night, hitting half the fairways and missing just two greens in regulation.

He birdied the fourth from five feet, two putted the par-five sixth for another and then made an 18 footer for a three at the tough eighth to turn in 33.

But having followed his lone bogey of the day at the 13th, where he overshot the green, with birdies at the 14th (16 feet) and 15th (tap in after an 88 yard wedge), he couldn't quite turn a good round into an excellent one. 

It was a similar story for Lowry, who got the year off to a great start with a share of seventh in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines last week before heading up the coast to Pebble Beach for his debut in the famous Pro-Am.

The Clara man made four birdies and one bogey — he bunkered a 93 yard approach attacking the third — but missed six putts inside 12 feet on poa greens before letting off some steam by getting up and down from sand at the 18th for his fourth birdie of the day.

Like Harrington he shaved the hole with birdie putts at the 16th and 17th. But the world No 40 converted for birdies on the second (5 feet), eighth (15 feet), 13th (16 feet) and 18th (3 feet), offsetting his lone bogey at the 16th, where he missed the fairway off the tee.

While it was generally fair going for Harrington and Lowry, who ended the day tied 26th and 38th respectively, Paul McGinley bogeyed three of his last four holes for a two over 73 on the Monterey Peninsula course to find himself tied 134th.

Last year's European Ryder Cup captain, possibly jaded having played in Malaysia last week, was playing with new clubs after his own set was stolen from his hire car in San Francisco on Monday

The Dubliner was going to attend a charity function and had Ryder Cup memorabilia as well as his passport, travel documents, iPad and golf clubs stolen.

“I was on Trackman for quite a while getting the yardages right and then the adjustment for the heavy sea air, which makes things complicated,” McGinley of his hurried preparations and switch to newer versions of the TaylorMade clubs he used alongside partner Ben Sharpe, a coach during his college days in San Diego and now CEO of TaylorMade. 

Holmes, who was beaten in a playoff by Jason Day (72 at P.B.) in San Diego, set the pace with a 64 at Pebble Beach and was joined by Hicks, who eagled the par-five 18th there thanks to a four iron approach to around 30 feet.

The pacesetters lead by one on eight under from a seven-strong group that included world No 839 John Day (PB) and Jim Furyk (seven under 64 at Monterey Peninsula).