Pádraig Harrington aims to shrug off injury at Pebble Beach

Shane Lowry and Séamus Power to join Day, Johnson, Spieth and Mickelson in California

Pádraig Harrington:  needs to kick-start his season stateside. Photograph: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

Pádraig Harrington: needs to kick-start his season stateside. Photograph: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

 

With two missed cuts in his first two tournaments of the season, Pádraig Harrington will hope it’s a case of third time lucky when he tees up in this week’s Pebble Beach Pro-Am on the US Tour. He was troubled by a trapped nerve in his neck prior to Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines and had an injection before playing in the Phoenix Open.

Harrington is one of three Irish players in the field in California. Shane Lowry managed to get on to the fringes of contention in Phoenix, only bemoaning a cold putter which he used 34 times in his final round, to eventually finish in joint 16th. Séamus Power has started impressively, making six of eight cuts so far in his rookie season on tour. Harrington, however, has struggled with the recurrence of a neck injury that resulted in a loss of power off the tee.

Although not suffering any pain, the trapped nerve caused the Dubliner to lose an estimated 10 miles per hour in ball speed and meant he was forced to play long irons or hybrids for many approach shots after losing distance on his tee shots.

Harrington, who has slipped down to 146th (from 128th) in the latest world rankings, badly needs to kick-start his season stateside. His plight is emphasised by the fact he is yet to feature in the FedEx Cup rankings, having failed to accumulate any points so far.

Hottest player

Power, who is 101st in the FedEx Cup standings, and Lowry, who is 98th, are also competing at Pebble Beach where Vaughn Taylor is the defending champion. Hideki Matsuyama, though, is an absentee: the Japanese golfer, winner of the Phoenix Open in a play-off, is the hottest player on tour with five wins in his last 10 appearances worldwide.

“It’s very difficult to continue playing golf at a very high level. There are ups and downs, especially when I’m playing bad or having a bad day. What I’m trying to do now is to work hard, correct what I’m doing wrong, and continue on,” said Matsuyama, who out-duelled Webb Simpson in a play-off to successfully defend his Phoenix Open title.

Simpson, who will seek to maintain the momentum at Pebble Beach, said: “My hat’s off to [Matsuyama]. He’s a great player . . . I’m excited to get back out next week.”

World number one Jason Day, aiming to bounce back after a missed cut at Torrey Pines a fortnight ago in his last outing, is one of four players from the world’s top 10 competing. Day (1), Dustin Johnson (4), Jordan Spieth (6) and Patrick Reed (10) are all playing, as is tournament specialist Phil Mickelson who is chasing a fifth win on the Monterey peninsula.

Paul Dunne – who made the cut in all three of the Gulf Swing tournaments, with a best finish of tied 21st in the Qatar Masters – has accepted a sponsor’s invite to play in the Maybank Championship to complete a four-week stint on the road. Dunne is joined by Niall Turner, recovered from injury, in the tournament which is dual-sanctioned by the European Tour and the Asian Tour.

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