Harrington on Love return: "When you let the inmates run the asylum that's what they come up with"

Harrington on Love return: "When you let the inmates run the asylum that's what they come up with"
 Pádraig Harrington smiles after hitting the pin with his pitch at the 10th at Riviera Country Club.

Pádraig Harrington smiles after hitting the pin with his pitch at the 10th at Riviera Country Club.

Padraig Harrington continued his streak of shooting par or better in the first round of every tournament he's played this year by opening with a one under 70 in the Northern Trust Open at Riviera Country Club.

So far, a series of big numbers here and there mean he's missed all three cuts. But could be about to change.

Los Angeles is in full pre-Oscar mode and Harrington was flashing his choppers with gusto having started by hitting the flag with a 49-yard pitch at the 10th (setting up a tap-in birdie) and finished by neatly getting up and down from greenside sand at the ninth for a super par four.

The 43-year old ended the day four shots behind a quintet of clubhouse leaders that included two men who are even older than him — 46 year old Retief Goosen and Vijay Singh (52 on Sunday), who fired five under 66s in each other's company to share the early lead with Americans Nick Watney, James Hahn, Daniel Summerhays and Derek Fathauer.

Between his birdie at the 10th and his sand save at the ninth, Harrington did little wrong on a firm Riviera, where keeping the ball in the fairway was tougher than ever.

Harrington did that well enough considering his recent mishaps off the tee, picking up a birdie at the par-five 11th to get to two under. 

While he failed to get up and down for his pars at the 'short' 14th (his fifth) and fourth (his 13th), he putted well, holing good putts for par at the 12th (six feet), 13th (four feet), 15th (five feet), 17th (five feet), sixth (five feet) and ninth (three feet) with his only other birdie putt coming at the first, where he lagged an 82 foot eagle putt to five feet. 

As a six-time ryder Cup player and one of Paul McGInley's vice-captains at Gleneagles, his opinion on the appointment of Darren Clarke and the speculation that Davis Love will get the US captaincy for a second time have been eagerly sought.

Nobody enjoys putting the cat among the pigeons more than Harrington and he gleefully threw the press a bone in LA earlier in the week, questioning the decision to appoint Love for a second time.

He was a good captain but when you let the inmates run the asylum sometimes that’s what they come up with.
— Pádraig Harrington on a second Ryder Cup captaincy for Davis Love

"It's interesting, it looks like they (the PGA of America) have chosen a friend," Harrington told Sky Sports. "I'm surprised they didn't go back to Paul Azinger.

"I know Davis did a great job but it does look like they've gone for the guy they like... I'm not saying they don't like Paul Azinger but maybe Paul turned it down.

"He was a good captain but when you let the inmates run the asylum sometimes that's what they come up with."

As for his thoughts on Europe, he couldn't resist revealing how badly Clarke will want to match McGinley when he captains the side at Hazeltine National in Minnesota in 2016.

Speaking to Colin Callandar in the  March edition of National Club Golfer, Harrington says of the recently held Ryder Cup captaincy race: “He [Clarke] deserves the job and it will be good for Europe if he gets it because the last thing he will want is to be outdone by Paul.”

Harrington is a huge admirer of Clarke's and he was very pleased to see him handed the captaincy on Wednesday. 

"I really supported him," Harrington said. "I think he will do a great job. I know Darren has the image of arm around the shoulder and being very supportive, but he is a hard worker behind the scenes and I do think he will leave no stone unturned to get the job done. As a captain, he will have that motivational factor as well."