Harrington ready for every occasion at Pebble

By Associated PressFebruary 12, 2009, 5:00 pm
2007 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-AmPEBBLE BEACH, Calif. ' The rain started falling late Wednesday, a sure sign the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am was about to begin. And it was sure to bring a smile to Padraig Harrington.
 
The three-time major champion from Ireland is not much different from any other golfer. Give him the choice between 80 degrees and sunshine or 50 degrees and rain that falls sideways, and hell be on the first plane to Palm Springs.
 
But he can play in the cold, in the wind, in the rain'sometimes all of the above.
 
I was brought up playing in this, he said. Its natural to me. I understand it. I can adapt to it. I dont have issues with it. Being brought up in Ireland, you get a lot of different conditions. You can have a nice summers day or you can have a wet and windy day, and you just have to get on with it and adapt.
 
Certainly, thats a trait of mine that has served me well.
 
Even as recently as last year, it should not go unmentioned that he won the British Open at Royal Birkdale in 30 mph wind, and won the PGA Championship at Oakland Hills by playing 27 holes on Sunday because of the rain.
 
But he offered some insight and illustrations of his history with weather and his passion for golf in any conditions.
 
I have never arranged to play a game of golf in Ireland and not played, Harrington said. Theres never been a day. I have played when it snowed, Ive played in all sorts of conditions, but I cant ever remember arranging to play golf and not actually going to play.
 
The worst of it?
 
Harrington played the West of Ireland golf championship every year as an amateur, the first big tournament of the spring held at Rosses Point on the tip of the Emerald Isle where he said the next stop would be New York.
 
As you stand there, its kind of on the sea or kind of on the cliff edge, and you can see the weather fronts come in, he said. And the weather used to get so bad that it was close to gale force winds, hail storms. When the real bad wind came in, you used to have to huddle into little ravines or bunkers to protect yourself from the hail storms.
 
He would wear a T-shirt, a golf shirt, a vest, two sweaters and a rain jacket and still feel the hail.
 
But he remembered one valuable lesson.
 
My old coach, Howard Bennett, used to always say, You get a bad day, 50 percent of the field arent prepared to play in those conditions, and the next 50 percent arent capable of playing in the conditions. So youre only playing 25 percent of the field on a bad day, Harrington said. Whereas on a nice, sunny day, you have to beat everybody.
 
No telling how many he will have to beat when the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am begins on Thursday.
 
The field is the largest in golf, 180 players with 180 amateurs spread over Pebble Beach, Spyglass Hill and Poppy Hills. This is the one tournament that has room for every rookie from Q-school or the Nationwide Tour, and some players who only have status as a past champion. Chris Smith, who hasnt finished in the top 150 on the money list in five years, got in as an alternate.
 
The field is strong. Harrington is among three players from the top five in the world ranking'joining Phil Mickelson and Vijay Singh, back from a minor knee surgery'while Kenny Perry and Jim Furyk made it five of the top 15.
 
The last three PGA Tour winners'Nick Watney (Buick Invitational), Perry (FBR Open) and Pat Perez (Bob Hope Chrysler Classic) are playing, as are David Toms and Davis Love III.
 
What kind of weather they face remains a mystery, which is typical of Pebble.
 
Remember, this is the tournament that was delayed in 1962 because of snow. Jimmy Demaret rolled out of bed at the Lodge, saw snow on the 18th green and quipped, I know I had a lot to drink last night, but how did I end up in Sun Valley?
 
But as bad of a rap that Pebble gets this time of the year, weather hasnt been an issue since Tiger Woods won on a Monday in 2000.
 
Toms is back for the first time since he missed the cut in 2002, in part because he is No. 66 in the world ranking and this is the final week to qualify for the 64-man field at the Accenture Match Play Championship.
 
The last few times I was here, the weather was extremely iffy at best' probably a lot like were going to have again, he said. So maybe its my fault.
 
Also back at Pebble is Mark Calcavecchia, although hes not sure why. He stopped playing the Sony Open and Buick Invitational, missed the cut in his two starts in the desert, and figured hed better play somewhere.
 
Plus I kept hearing the weather has been good here, so I figured Id better put a stop to that, he said. I played in 2001 and it took me three years to get over it. Played here in 2004 and it took me five years to get over that.
 
Sounds like he might not be in that 25 percentile to which Harrington referred.
 
Related Links:
  • Full Coverage - AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
  • Golf Channel Airtimes
  • Monterey Peninsula proves it's a golf destination for all types
  • Getty Images

    Fleetwood flawless en route to Abu Dhabi lead

    By Will GrayJanuary 18, 2018, 2:06 pm

    New year, same results for Tommy Fleetwood.

    The reigning Race to Dubai champ picked up where he left off in the opening round of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, carding a bogey-free 66 during which the Englishman found all 18 greens in regulation. At 6 under, he shares the lead with Japan's Hideto Tanihara and sits one shot clear of five other players.

    "Very stress-free. Played really well from start to finish," Fleetwood said. "Felt like I did what you need to do around this golf course, which is drive it well, hit your irons solid. You can't really be too greedy a lot of the time, and then sort of my pace putting was really good. So basically just did what you need to do to get a good score around this golf course, and I got one."


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    Fleetwood shined in a marquee grouping that included world No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Rory McIlroy, as he birdied three holes on each nine. This is his first worldwide start since a T-3 finish at the Hero World Challenge.

    It was at this event a year ago that Fleetwood sparked a career campaign, edging Johnson and Pablo Larrazabal for the win. He added another win at the French Open in the summer to go along with a pair of runner-up results and a T-4 finish at the U.S. Open, all of which helped him capture the European Tour's season-long title.

    Fleetwood's sudden success in Abu Dhabi serves as a microcosm for his career resurgence. Prior to last year's victory, he had missed the cut in four of his five other trips to this event.

    Getty Images

    Sergio starts season with 66 in Singapore

    By Associated PressJanuary 18, 2018, 12:56 pm

    SINGAPORE – Sergio Garcia opened his season with a 5-under 66 and a share of the clubhouse lead on Thursday in the first round of the weather-interrupted Singapore Open.

    Playing his first tournament of the year, the Masters champion rebounded after making an early bogey to collect four birdies and an eagle at the Sentosa Golf Club.

    He was later joined by American qualifier Kurt Kitayama in the clubhouse lead. Still on the course, Tirawat Kaewsiribandit was at 6 under through 16 holes when play was suspended for the day because of the threat of lightning.

    Louis Oosthuizen, the 2010 Open champion, was at 5 under through 16 holes when he also had to stop his round because of the weather.

    Of the players who did finish their opening rounds, only three were within two strokes of Garcia and Kitayama. One of them was Casey O'Toole, who aced the par-3 second with a 7-iron.



    The 38-year-old Garcia dropped his only shot of the day on the par-4 15th, his sixth hole after teeing off on the back nine, when he missed the fairway and was unable to make par. But he made amends when he birdied the par-3 17th and then eagled the par-5 18th to go out in 33.

    ''I was 1 over after (the) seventh but it didn't feel like I was playing badly,'' said Garcia, who made birdies on each of the two par 5s and one of the par 3s on the second nine. ''But then I hit two greats in a row for holes 17 and 18. I got a birdie-eagle there, so that settled me a little bit and I could play solid in the back nine and it was a great round.''

    Garcia made the shortlist for the Laureus Sports Awards in the Breakthrough of the Year category after claiming his first major at Augusta National last year and is hoping for more success this season.

    He credits the Singapore Open as having played a part in toughening him up for his Masters win because he opted to start his 2017 campaign in the stifling humidity of Southeast Asia to prepare himself for the bigger tournaments ahead.

    Although he finished tied for 11th in Singapore, Garcia won the Dubai Desert Classic the next week and was in peak form when he won the Masters two months later.

    Kitayama only secured his place in the $1 million event on Monday by finishing at the top of the qualifying competition, but he made a strong start with birdies on three of his first five holes. The 25-year-old Thai was 6 under through 13 holes but spoiled his otherwise flawless round with a bogey on his last.

    ''I started with a birdie and I just let it roll from there. I had some good tee shots, which I think, is the biggest thing for this course,'' Kitayama said. ''I'm a little tired, but I'm hanging in there. Whenever I have time off, I'll try not to think too much about golf.''

    Getty Images

    13-year-old beats DJ in closest-to-the-pin contest

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:26 pm

    Dustin Johnson didn’t just get beat by Tommy Fleetwood and Rory McIlroy on Day 1 of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

    Even a 13-year-old got the best of the world No. 1.

    Oscar Murphy teed off on the 177-yard 15th hole as part of the tournament’s Beat the Pro challenge during the opening round. The Northern Irishman, one of the HSBC’s Future Falcons, carved a 3-wood toward a back-right pin, about 25 feet away, closer than both Johnson and Fleetwood.

    “An unbelievable shot,” Fleetwood said afterward, “and me and Rory both said, ‘We don’t have that in our locker.’”



    Johnson still made par on the hole, but he mixed four birdies with four bogeys Thursday for an even-par 72 that left him six shots back of Fleetwood and Hideto Tanihara after the opening round.

    Johnson, who tied for second here a year ago, is coming off a dominant performance at the Sentry Tournament of Champions, where he won by eight shots to strengthen his lead atop the world rankings. 

    Getty Images

    McIlroy 'really pleased' with opening 69 in Abu Dhabi

    By Ryan LavnerJanuary 18, 2018, 12:10 pm

    It was an auspicious 2018 debut for Rory McIlroy.

    Playing alongside world No. 1 Dustin Johnson for his first round since October, McIlroy missed only one green and shot a bogey-free 69 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. McIlroy is three shots back of reigning Race to Dubai champion Tommy Fleetwood, who played in the same group as McIlroy and Johnson, and Hideto Tanihara.

    Starting on the back nine at Abu Dhabi Golf Club, McIlroy began with 11 consecutive pars before birdies on Nos. 3, 7 and 8.


    Full-field scores from the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship


    “I was excited to get going,” he told reporters afterward. “The last couple of months have been really nice in terms of being able to concentrate on things I needed to work on in my game and health-wise. I feel like I’m the most prepared for a season that I’ve ever been, but it was nice to get back out there.”

    Fleetwood, the defending champion, raced out to another lead while McIlroy and Johnson, who shot 72, just tried to keep pace.

    “Tommy played very well and I was just trying to hang onto his coattails for most of the round, so really pleased – bogey-free 69, I can’t really complain,” McIlroy said.

    This was his first competitive round in more than three months, since a tie for 63rd at the Dunhill Links. He is outside the top 10 in the world ranking for the first time since 2014.