Less is more for Pádraig Harrington ahead of US PGA

2008 winner aiming to be fresh on Thursday at familiar surroindings of Quail Hollow

Pádraig Harrington returns to the familiar surroundings of Quail Hollow this week. Photograph: Peter Morrison/Inpho

Pádraig Harrington returns to the familiar surroundings of Quail Hollow this week. Photograph: Peter Morrison/Inpho

 

There’s no mad rushing about, not here. The pace of life seems just that little bit slower; and even the rain - which again leaked with regularity from grey clouds as if to remind us of the disruption ahead - was of the warm variety that could have come straight from a soft day back home, which probably explained why Pádraig Harrington seemed so relaxed with life.

Standing on the steps into the locker-room here at Quail Hollow Golf Club, the Dubliner - who turns 46 later this month - has learned from experience. Where once upon a time these build-up days meant devouring the course with a zealous quest to discover all of its nuances, Harrington is more concerned with keeping it all in check and biding his time until the real examination paper needs to be answered.

As Jason Kokrak boomed his 321 yard drive down the 10th, and others like Nicholas Colsaerts and Justin Thomas hit 300-plus drives of their own, Harrington - coming here on the back of missed cuts at the British Open and last week at the Barracuda championship but strong in the self-belief that it’ll only take the putts to drop to turn things around - was intent to stick to the process, one of less is more.

Mentally fresh

“It wouldn’t be my personality to find it easy to be sitting back and taking it easy. I’m always anxious there is more work to be done, and I have to continually work at it. I love playing on a Thursday but I wouldn’t be as enthralled with practice days as in times gone by. That’s the experience to know it all changes on Thursday morning and making sure you are ready for that. The person who makes the best decisions is the one who is going to do the best in any given week, so I may as well be mentally fresh,” explained Harrington, who lifted the PGA title back in 2008 and, nine years on, still has the appetite for the battle.

He knows this place well and has been coming here - with the odd missed year - since 2005 during which time Quail Hollow has played host to the Wells Fargo championship in its different guises. He has missed the good and the bad: back-to-back top-10s in 2010 and 2011, four missed cuts from 2013 to 2016.

But that familiarity has meant Harrington can do things his way, with only the change in grasses -from poa annua to Bermuda - to be factored in. “I wonder how valid the notes are from previous years?” he pondered, adding: “I am managing myself rather than anything else and getting ready for the tournament, not so much the event, more what is going on with me. Just easing myself in, trying not to overdo it on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.”

Anyway, it is a course that Harrington finds “interesting” and he is of the opinion that the switch to Bermuda grass on the greens will be of benefit as he seeks to get the putts to drop. As he put it, “there is a consistency to the on the greens. If you putt on poa annua, poa annua is faster downhill and slower uphill than Bermuda. So if you had a green that stimps at 10 when it is flat, then downhill on poa annua it gets very quick and uphill it gets slow because the ball stays on top of the grass all the time, it is bubbling on top, whereas in Bermuda it is sitting in the grass so it is consistent pace up and ground. And bent is consistent pace up and downhill.

“I find Bermuda very easy to read, it always goes pretty much the colour of the greens and you can see the grain and it is very easy to read. I like to over borrow and Bermuda suits that.”

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