Padraig Harrington rolls back the years with brilliant display in Texas

Dubliner shoots a four-under-par 68 to take share of clubhouse lead despite weather delays

Doing it his way, Pádraig Harrington reeled back the years to play his way into contention in the Valero Texas Open at San Antonio Country Club where there is the bonus of the last exemption into next week’s Masters tournament on offer for the winner.

Although fog proved disruptive in causing a near three and a half hours suspension, and then strong winds gusting to 35 miles an hour provided a different challenge once play got under way, the 51-year-old Dubliner proved immune to such disruptors in signing for a finely crafted four-under-par 68 that gave him a share of the clubhouse lead with Matt Kuchar.

“Look, [with] tough conditions, which generally suit me, I kept my head down, I never saw the leaderboard until I finished. I didn’t know I was leading and that’s what you’ve got to do on a tough day. You’ve got to hit sensible shots and sometimes the sensible shot isn’t trying to hit the middle of the fairway, it’s squeezing it up one side of it. Even if it goes in the rough, it’s fine. You’ve got to really have your thinking hat on and I did a good job mentally today. I worked my way around the golf course, didn’t get myself in too many awkward situations and I got up and down quite a few times and I putted well,” said Harrington of his round.

Harrington, who mainly plays on the Champions Tour these days, showed much of his old fight and creativity in overcoming an early bogey on the 12th, his third hole, to forge a hot streak around the turn where he claimed a hat-trick of birdies.


He rolled in an eight-footer for birdie on the 17th to get his run going and followed with a 10-footer on the 18th and a 12-footer on the first. Although a three-putt bogey six on the second ended that birdie sequence he got back on track with back-to-back birdies on the fourth and fifth from 16 and four feet respectively.

Harrington hasn’t won on the PGA Tour since claiming the Honda Classic in 2015 but has been hugely competitive on the Champions Tour. In his rookie season last year, Harrington won four times, including the US Senior Open.

Of taking an optimistic view into tournaments, Harrington explained: “You’re always hopeful, dreaming. I think [such an attitude] keeps you young, it keeps you there. And I figured I’d burnt out maybe five, maybe six years ago, I’d have been burnt out when it came to golf, and I established a new way of doing it for myself.

“I’m not as intense as I would have been. I look to enjoy my weeks more.  I’m a little bit more relaxed about everything that goes on. I know I’m going to try hard enough, so I can afford to take a step back and I think that was the only way I could continue to compete out here is just to take a step back and enjoy the stuff I enjoy and trying to get rid of the stuff that was making it tedious.”

Philip Reid

Philip Reid

Philip Reid is Golf Correspondent of The Irish Times