Compiled by PHILIP REID
Going for fun at the Irish Open
Imitation, as we all know, is the greatest form of flattery. And, so, there shouldn’t be any inhibitions about the Irish Open – which takes place at Carton House’s Montgomerie course on June 27th-30th – taking a leaf out of the Phoenix Open’s book and doing a copycat of that tournament’s 16th hole.
The Monty course already has a short hole tailor-made for such imitation: the par three 17th, which brings players back towards the closing hole down by the river Rye.
The case for copycatting is a strong one, with the atmosphere at last year’s Irish Open in Royal Portrush providing one of the most fitting and fun memorials to the 2012 season.
Wouldn’t it be great to see a replica of the caddies’ race from tee to green a la Phoenix? Colin Byrne versus JP Fitzgerald. Billy Foster versus Ronan Flood.
Wouldn’t it be good to have the left side of the hole fitted with a grandstand from tee to green and players dispensing swag to the spectators?
And wouldn’t it be good for the good-natured boos to players who miss the green?
What the Phoenix Open, of course, has in its favour is that it returns to the same course year-in and year-out, with the consequence that the 16th hole – entirely surrounded by grandstands and raucous fans – has built an infamy of its own.
Still, if anywhere has the ability to recapture some of the fun associated with such a hole, surely it is an Irish Open which – in recent years at Portrush and Killarney – has rekindled the spirit of old.
The big question is, who could possibly replicate the Gangnam-style dance of Korean golfer James Hahn, a tribute to PSY from his homeland?
Perhaps an imitation of Riverdance might be more appropriate!
Whatever, the fun aspect generated by those – spectators and players alike – around the 16th is worth copying.
Harrington getting into the swing
The early-season omens are good for Pádraig Harrington, which is a good thing for golf. In his three outings on tour so far this season, the Dubliner clearly seems at ease with himself, what with wearing new glasses (and still purporting to have 20/20 vision) and also kicking American footballs into the crowds, a skill that wouldn’t have done his footballing cousin Joey any harm in his NFL days.
Harrington – who has moved on from the Arizona desert to more familiar terrain at Pebble Beach for this week’s stopover on the PGA Tour – seems remarkably comfortable in his own skin these days and his results so far (third in South Africa, 23rd in Abu Dhabi and ninth in Phoenix) indicate that many facets of his game are in good order. And, for sure, his name on the same page of the leaderboard as the Mickelsons and Snedekers seems perfectly in order.
It would seem likely it is only a matter of time before Harrington rejoins the winner’s circle on the US Tour. Whenever and wherever that might be, Harrington’s enthusiasm would appear to be unabated. As he remarked following his 63 in the third round on Saturday: “I saw Arnold Palmer when he was 70 years of age being interviewed after a Champions Tour event, and he came off the golf course (smiling) from one ear to the other, saying he’d found “the secret”. I want to be that man.