Middle finger injury costs Harrington shot at Masters


HUMBLE, Texas – Padraig Harrington will miss his first major championship since 1999, his streak ending Friday with his left middle finger extended.

OK, so that probably requires an explanation.

Harrington needed to win this week’s Shell Houston Open to avoid missing his first Masters this century. And by late Friday afternoon he still had a chance, however slight, as he sat on the cut line at 1 under walking to the 15th tee.

Harrington took a deep divot on the previous hole, but on the tee box he noticed something peculiar. His left middle finger was cramping, and he couldn’t bend it or grip his driver.

“It’s not like I was in awful pain or anything,” he said. “It’s just a distraction.”

Players are allowed 10 to 15 minutes for a medical issue, so Harrington told the group behind –Phil Mickelson, Webb Simpson and Keegan Bradley – to play through.

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Harrington applied a cream on his finger, received anti-inflammatories and was able to continue, but he played his final four holes in 5 over par. By the end of the round he wasn’t even gripping the club with his middle finger.

“It didn’t do me any favors,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s a convenient excuse at the end of the day, but it certainly caused a bogey on 15, anyway.”

The three-time major champion now will set up in front of the TV to watch the Masters.

“It’s disappointing to miss out,” he said, “but these things happen.”