Old putting demons back to haunt Harrington as he trails McDowell

Fri, Feb 22, 2013, 00:00

Three-time PGA Tour winner Howard Twitty is convinced that Pádraig Harrington will overcome his putting demons and win again.

The 64-year old from Arizona, who has been helping with Harrington with elements of his putting since May last year, is convinced that the Dubliner’s work ethic and determination will eventually win the day.

“Pádraig looks at a goal and says, ‘I am going to find away to get there’,” Twitty said at the Accenture Match Play.“ He is truly a great, great man. No one works harder. “Hewas workedvery hard on his aim and he is doing a lot better now. When we started last year, it was his alignment that was giving him trouble but the grip we have invented helps his perception and allows him to get the putter blade back to square.

“He is a very good athlete and a great player and while it looks like he has gone a little off track recently, I’d be surprised if he didn’t do well the next couple of weeks.”

The snow delay has brought the venue’s suitability as a World Golf Championship venue into focus with calls for it to be moved to a less remote location as soon as possible.

However, Dove Mountain’s contract does not run out until 2014 and while few players like its rollercoaster greens, it appears that the organisers’ hands are tied until then.

Anonymous professionals

In a Golf World magazine survey of the most popular and unpopular tour stops amongst the players, Ritz-Carlton Golf Club came 51st of 52 courses with anonymous professionals commenting “The greens were almost cool, but way off...” and “Hate to say it, but there is just nothing positive to say.”

Poor crowds have not helped Tucson’s cause but it is the greens, rather than this week’s freak weather, that have given the most grief.

Highly undulating, they were doing little for Harrington’s confidence last night as he missed three putts inside five feet to trail Graeme McDowell by two holes at the turn.

Resuming over a four and a half footer on the first, he knocked it in to take a one up lead after McDowell had missed from 25 feet for par. But the demons quickly took over.

McDowell hit a flop shot to 12 feet at the par-five second and rolled in the putt to leave Harrington facing a four-footer for a half.

But the Dubliner’s effort dribbled over the right edge and while he got up and down from sand at the next to remain all square, he was soon two down.

After missing an slippery 11-footer for a win at the fourth, the three-time Major winner three-putted the fifth and sixth, missing from inside five feet both times.

It was also an early struggle for Shane Lowry against world number one Rory McIlroy in one of the most eagerly-awaited clashes of the day.

McIlroy had a chance to go one up at the first but missed a six-footer for birdie after a laser like three wood and a superb approach.

The Holywood star then took the 564-yard second with a par five when Lowry was forced to hack out of the right rough and then failed to get up and down after pulling his 214-yard third well left, missing a 15-footer for a half.

Opened the door

McIlroy appeared to have opened the door at the 179-yard third when he pushed his tee shot into the lake that guards the green.

But Lowry inexplicably followed him into the water and after McIlroy had holed an 11-footer for a bogey, he had to knock in a four-footer just to remain one down.

McIlroy then took the fifth in par to go two up when Lowry failed to get up and down from left of the green.

But the Ulsterman missed the par-three sixth well to the right, failed tomakethe putting surface in two and ended uptaking a double bogey five to see his lead cut to just one hole.

Sergio Garcia, meanwhile, had to go to the 20th to see off Thongchai Jaidee have resumed on the 16th with a 10-footer for the win.

But the three-putted to lose the hole and then lost the 18th to a birdie to be taken into extra time before eventually closing out the Thai with a birdie four at the second extra hole.

Matt Kuchar beat Hiroyuki Fujita 3 and 2, Ian Poulter was pleased with his 2 and 1 win over Stephen Gallacher while the biggest shock of the opening round was Charl Schwartzel’s defeat to the unheralded Russell Henley by one hole.

Sigh of relief

Poulter heaved a sigh of relief after beating in-form Gallacher. Poulter not only avoided a third consecutive exit at the first hurdle in the elite event but he did so against a fellow Briton who won the European Tour’s Dubai Desert Classic earlier this month.

“I’m fully aware of my early exits the last couple of years and obviously I didn’t want to do that again,” a smiling Poulter told reporters after never trailing in his opening match .

“Stephen was in good form, I knew that. He was obviously fresh and ready to play off the back of a good win. I knew he would be a tough opponent.

“I put in a lot of work in my time off to come out feeling as strong as I possibly can and I’ve hit a lot of good shots over the last two days.

“Also I hit a couple of scruffy ones but I’m pleased with the way I come out to get through that match.”

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