Scheduling reality kicks in for Harrington — tough phone calls ahead
Pádraig Harrington sporting his Dunnes Stores line of clothing last year

Pádraig Harrington sporting his Dunnes Stores line of clothing last year

On Monday Pádraig Harrington was on such a high following his Honda Classic comeback win that he insisted he'd honour his commitments and take up four sponsors invitations in a row before playing in the Masters. Now he's not so sure.

Having just played five events in a row — the most he's played since he did six in a row in mid-2011 — the Dubliner knows it would be crazy to play the Valspar Championship, the Arnold Palmer Invitational, the Valero Texas Open and Shell Houston Open before going to Augusta National.

It isn't that he can't handle the golf or doesn't feel he owes the people who backed him a favours — “I will honour those invites because I got them. And I do appreciate them. … It doesn’t change it now because I’m busy. I owe a few people favours,” he said on Monday. But the chance that he's also facing a potential six-in-a-row run that would take him up to the Irish Open at the end of May —  New Orleans, WGC-Cadillac Match Play (not yet qualified), The Players, Wells Fargo, the European Tour's BMW PGA and Royal County Down — has led to a reality check.

Eleven tournaments in 12 weeks? Maybe not.

"I am going to try and do my very best in everything," Harrington said before doing a photo shoot for his line of golfing apparel for Dunnes Stores at Dun Laoghaire Golf Club. "We are going to talk to some of the sponsors, some of the tournaments to see what the story is and figure out where we are going.  

"Winning the Honda means there are at least five more events into my schedule [Masters, Players, WGC-Bridgestone, WGC-HSBC Champions are four with one Play-Off event presumably a given].

"Considering I played 25 times last year that’s not going to happen again this year but if I add five events, it is going to take some out as well. It’s a nice problem to have."

As he basked in the glory of his first PGA Tour win for nearly seven years, Harrington insisted he wanted to "savour" the moment, though he had  briefly sat down with his manager to talk about his schedule. 

How will he build up to the Masters?

"I haven’t decided," he said. 

Could he call sponsors or tournaments who've offered invitations and say, look, I can't make it this year but I'll come next year?  

"All to be discussed. Hopefully there will be somebody who sees it like that; definitely all to be discussed. 

"Clearly I have played five in a row which is the longest I have played since I was a rookie. [sic] That would be another five in a row if I played the four I am (currently) committed to and the Masters and then there would be six in a row just after that into the Irish Open.  

"You wouldn’t want to play four into the Masters and five in a row to the Irish Open either. There are a lot of commitments but these are nice problems to have. So we are going to figure out a new schedule. I was talking with my manager today and yeah, it’s complicated."

Harrington played 32 events last year, more than he had ever played since he turned professional in 1995. 

Even with a PGA Tour win under his belt, he knows he's going to play more than 30 again this year. 

"I guarantee you it will be over 30 — 32 or something like that. I like playing so it is not a big problem. Next year and the year after when I set a schedule at the start of the year, it would come in at the 28 or something like that. 

"This year because of commitments, I’ll still be up there. I’m still playing FedEx St Jude, Travelers, either side if I do get into the US Open. So I will easily get over the 30. 

"I have to make my 13 events in Europe which means I’m going to have to put in a couple of events there. It will comfortably get over 30 events, but I’ll try not to do 35."