Harrington plays way into final group; kicks footballs into stands

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Too bad Padraig Harrington is playing in the Waste Management Phoenix Open’s final group on Sunday. The Super Bowl-bound San Francisco 49ers may have wanted to claim him off waivers.

An Irishman who has never before kicked an American football, he set up on the 16th tee after hitting his shot and booted one easily into the bleacher seats on Saturday afternoon.

There’s no doubt which one made him more nervous.

“I'm a professional golfer. I have hit 8 irons before in my life under pressure. I have a routine, and I know what I'm doing,” he said. “When it comes to kicking, especially an American football, I have never done it before. I did not want to screw up the first one along the ground, for sure. I did want to get it airborne a little bit of distance.”

After the first kick, Harrington punted a few into the stands – including one that he got so well it flew right over them.

That was hardly the only success he had during the day. A third-round 63 moved him into a share of third place, though still eight shots behind leader Phil Mickelson.

“If I look back at the round, you know, it's possible I could say I had a lot of chances that I didn't take,” he explained. “But ultimately, you know, my game is in good shape so it's easier to be patient when your game is in good shape.”