All Work No Play for Leader Harrington

By Associated PressOctober 16, 2007, 4:00 pm
PGA of AmericaTUCKER'S TOWN, Bermuda -- Someone forgot to tell Padraig Harrington this is supposed to be a working vacation.
 
The PGA Grand Slam of Golf felt much more like work Tuesday, with the British Open champion grinding so hard to keep control of his game that he barely noticed the turquoise coastline below the Mid-Ocean Club on his way to a 3-under 67 and a one-shot lead.
 
'I was struggling with my game, so my head was very much down,' Harrington said. 'I saw a little bit of the nice coastline and scenery, but it was very much a workmanlike day. Every shot I was a bit worried. It was a tough day out there for me, and luckily, the putts were dropping and it kept me right in there.'
 
U.S. Open champion Angel Cabrera nearly caught him until his 15-foot eagle putt came up short on the 18th hole, giving him a 68.
 
Masters champion Zach Johnson and Jim Furyk each had a 71 in rounds that looked nothing alike. Johnson had to play a shot out of someone's backyard on the second hole and was 4 over through five holes until playing bogey-free the rest of the way. Furyk, the replacement for Tiger Woods, made 15 pars and very few putts and was only glad he wasn't farther behind.
 
Overall, it wasn't a bad start for an exhibition that changed islands and oceans for the first time in 13 years.
 
The Grand Slam of Golf, the most exclusive field in golf reserved only for the year's major champions, left Poipu Bay in Hawaii after 13 years for the Mid-Ocean Club in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, a course that measures only 6,666 yards but still offered a stern test with swirling breezes, hidden pins and greens so pure the players at times got too aggressive.
 
'You feel like you can hole the putts,' Harrington said. 'I ran my putt by 6 feet on the 17th because I was thinking I could hole it from 20 feet. You get caught up by the facts that the greens are very good.'
 
Harrington has the most experience, having arrived early enough to play 15 holes on Sunday, followed by his pro-am round Monday. But he battled with his swing, hitting left into the water on par-3 third and scrambling for bogey, then nearly hitting his tee shot on the fifth hole into the water. He hit his approach into 18 feet for birdie and the recovery began.
 
The Irishman holed an 8-footer for birdie on the sixth, made a 20-foot putt on the eighth, and looked as though he might run away from the field with consecutive birdies early on the back nine, including his 5-iron to 18 feet on the 12th.
 
But the score was somewhat of a mirage.
 
'I didn't play very well,' Harrington said. 'I just managed to hole the right putts and made the right decisions.'
 
Sometimes, he did neither.
 
Harrington started coming back to the field with a poor chip from just left of the 13th green that ran 15 feet by the cup, which he missed for bogey. And on the 504-yard 15th, which played as a par 4, he pulled his approach into the gallery, then couldn't make up his mind how to hit his pitch until his ball had left the club and was sailing over the green into a bunker. He did well to escape with bogey.
 
Cabrera made short work of the par 5s, as expected, and had only one bogey on his card. That also came on the 13th, with his ball a few yards in front of Harrington, a chip that wasn't much better.
 
'I hit the ball pretty solid,' he said through his caddie, Eddie Gardino. 'I've played a lot of golf lately. I'm not 100 percent, but I will be up to 100 percent.'
 
Asked when that would happen, Cabrera needed no translator.
 
'Tomorrow,' he said.
 
Furyk walked around as though tomorrow were yesterday, and it sure felt that way. He finished third in South Korea over the weekend, hung around for a skins game for charity, and made the not-so-quick trip to Bermuda.
 
He finished about 3 p.m. Monday in South Korea, had a two-hour drive to the airport, arrived in New York about 7:30 p.m. Monday (having crossed the international dateline), cleared customs and arrived on this tiny resort island about 1 a.m. Tuesday.
 
Of greater concern was missing birdie opportunities on the last three holes.
 
'I'm four back, and I really felt like I should have come in a lot better than I did,' he said.
 
Johnson played great in the pro-am, but his expectations came crashing down with four bogeys through five holes, none more entertaining the second hole when his approach bounced over bushes into a backyard.
 
The bigger shock was learning there is no out-of-bounds at Mid-Ocean Club, so the Masters champion got free relief from a stone walkway that was treated like a cart path. Johnson was worried about tearing up the lawn, picked it as clean as he could to 15 feet and then two-putted for bogey, but only after running the first putt some 8 feet by the hole.
 
'We were quite amused by the ruling that there was no out-of-bounds on the golf course,' Harrington said. 'It was different.'
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - PGA Grand Slam of Golf
  • Getty Images

    Koepka (wrist) likely out until the Masters

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 9:08 pm

    Defending U.S. Open champion Brooks Koepka is expected to miss at least the next two months because of a torn tendon in his left wrist.

    Koepka, who suffered a partially torn Extensor Carpi Ulnaris (ECU), is hoping to return in time for the Masters.

    In a statement released by his management company, Koepka said that doctors are unsure when the injury occurred but that he first felt discomfort at the Hero World Challenge, where he finished last in the 18-man event. Playing through pain, he also finished last at the Tournament of Champions, after which he underwent a second MRI that revealed the tear.

    Koepka is expected to miss the next eight to 12 weeks.

    “I am frustrated that I will now not be able to play my intended schedule,” Koepka said. “But I am confident in my doctors and in the treatment they have prescribed, and I look forward to teeing it up at the Masters. … I look forward to a quick and successful recovery.”

    Prior to the injury, Koepka won the Dunlop Phoenix and cracked the top 10 in the world ranking. 

    Getty Images

    Cut Line: Color Rory unafraid of the Ryder Cup

    By Rex HoggardJanuary 19, 2018, 7:09 pm

    In this week’s edition, Rory McIlroy gets things rolling with some early Ryder Cup banter, Dustin Johnson changes his tune on a possible golf ball roll-back, and the PGA Tour rolls ahead with integrity training.


    Made Cut

    Paris or bust. Rory McIlroy, who made his 2018 debut this week on the European Tour, can be one of the game’s most affable athletes. He can also be pointed, particularly when discussing the Ryder Cup.

    Asked this week in Abu Dhabi about the U.S. team, which won the last Ryder Cup and appears to be rejuvenated by a collection of new players, McIlroy didn’t disappoint.

    “If you look at Hazeltine and how they set the course up – big, wide fairways, no rough, pins in the middle of greens – it wasn’t set up for the way the Europeans like to play,” McIlroy said. “I think Paris will be a completely different kettle of fish, so different.”

    McIlroy has come by his confidence honestly, having won three of the four Ryder Cups he’s played, so it’s understandable if he doesn't feel like an underdog heaidng to Paris.

    “The Americans have obviously been buoyant about their chances, but it’s never as easy as that,” he said. “The Ryder Cup is always close. It always comes down to a few key moments, and it will be no different in Paris. I think we’ll have a great team and it definitely won’t be as easy as they think it’s going to be.”

    September can’t get here quick enough.

    Mr. Spieth goes to Ponte Vedra Beach. The Tour announced this year’s player advisory council, the 16-member group that works with the circuit’s policy board to govern.

    There were no real surprises to the PAC, but news that Jordan Spieth had been selected to run for council chair is interesting. Spieth, who is running against Billy Hurley III and would ascend to the policy board next year if he wins the election, served on the PAC last year and would make a fine addition to the policy board, but it is somewhat out of character for a marquee player.

    In recent years, top players like Spieth have largely avoided the distractions that come with the PAC and policy board. Of course, we’ve also learned in recent years that Spieth is not your typical superstar.


    Made Cut-Did Not Finish (MDF)

    On second thought. In December at the Hero World Challenge, Dustin Johnson was asked about a possible golf ball roll-back, which has become an increasingly popular notion in recent years.

    “I don't mind seeing every other professional sport. They play with one ball. All the pros play with the same ball,” he said in the Bahamas. “I think there should be some kind of an advantage for guys who work on hitting it far and getting that speed that's needed, so having a ball, like the same ball that everyone plays, there's going to be, you're going to have more of an advantage.”

    The world No. 1 appeared to dial back that take this week in Abu Dhabi, telling BBC Sport, “It's not like we are dominating golf courses. When was the last time you saw someone make the game too easy?”

    Maybe it didn’t feel that way, but DJ’s eight-stroke romp two weeks ago at the Sentry Tournament of Champions certainly looked pretty easy.

    Long odds. I had a chance to watch the Tour’s 15-minute integrity training video that players have been required view and came away with a mixture of confusion and concern.

    The majority of the video, which includes a Q&A element, focuses on how to avoid match fixing. Although the circuit has made it clear there is no indication of current match fixing, it’s obviously something to keep an eye on.

    The other element that’s worth pointing out is that although the Tour may be taking the new program seriously, some players are not.

    “My agent watched [the training video] for me,” said one Tour pro last week at the Sony Open.


    Missed Cut

    Groundhog Day. To be fair, no one expected Patton Kizzire and James Hahn to need six playoff holes to decide last week’s Sony Open, but the episode does show why variety is the spice of life.

    After finishing 72 holes tied at 17 under, Kizzire and Hahn played the 18th hole again and again and again and again. In total, the duo played the par-5 closing hole at Waialae Country Club five times (including in regulation play) on Sunday.

    It’s worth noting that the playoff finally ended with Kizzire’s par at the sixth extra hole, which was the par-3 17th. Waialae’s 18th is a fine golf hole, but in this case familiarity really did breed contempt.

    Tweet of the week:

    It was a common theme last Saturday on Oahu after an island-wide text alert was issued warning of an inbound ballistic missile and advising citizens to “seek immediate shelter.”

    The alert turned out to be a mistake, someone pushed the wrong button during a shift change, but for many, like Peterson, it was a serious lesson in perspective.

    Getty Images

    Watch: McIlroy gives Fleetwood a birthday cake

    By Golf Channel DigitalJanuary 19, 2018, 2:58 pm

    Tommy Fleetwood turned 27 on Friday. He celebrated with some good golf – a 4-under 68 in Abu Dhabi, leaving him only two shots back in his title defense – and a birthday cake, courtesy of Rory Mcllroy.

    While giving a post-round interview, Fleetwood was surprised to see McIlroy approaching with a cake in hand.

    “I actually baked this before we teed off,” McIlroy joked.

    Fleetwood blew out the three candles – “three wishes!” – and offered McIlroy a slice.  

    <
    Getty Images

    DJ shoots 64 to surge up leaderboard in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 19, 2018, 1:48 pm

    Dustin Johnson stood out among a star-studded three-ball that combined to shoot 18 under par with just one bogey Friday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Shaking off a sloppy first round at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, Johnson matched the low round of the day with a 64 that put him within four shots of Thomas Pieters’ lead.

    “I did everything really well,” Johnson said. “It was a pretty easy 64.”

    Johnson made four bogeys during an even-par 72 on Thursday and needed a solid round Friday to make the cut. Before long, he was closer to the lead than the cut line, making birdie on three of the last four holes and setting the pace in a group that also included good rounds from Rory McIlroy (66) and Tommy Fleetwood (68).

    “Everyone was hitting good shots,” McIlroy said. “That’s all we were seeing, and it’s nice when you play in a group like that. You feed off one another.” 


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Coming off a blowout victory at Kapalua, Johnson is searching for his first regular European Tour title. He tied for second at this event a year ago.

    Johnson’s second-round 64 equaled the low round of the day (Jorge Campillo and Branden Grace). 

    “It was just really solid all day long,” Johnson said. “Hit a lot of great shots, had a lot of looks at birdies, which is what I need to do over the next two days if I want to have a chance to win on Sunday.”