Pádraig Harrington looking to arrest slide in Mississippi
Three-time Major winner is now ranked 340th in the world after losing PGA Tour card
Pádraig Harrington is now ranked 340th in the world. Photograph: Getty Images
While 40 of the world’s top 50 players are contesting the WGC-HSBC Champions event in Shanghai, world number 340 Harrington is one of nine former Major champions in the field at Jackson Country Club.
Harrington, who reached a career-high third in the world six months after winning his third Major title in the 2008 US PGA Championship bust has since lost his Tour card and is playing on invitations, will partner fellow Major winners Lucas Glover and David Toms in the opening two rounds of the €3.2 million event.
Glover has also plummeted down the rankings since winning the US Open in 2009 and is now a lowly 556th, while 2001 US PGA champion Toms is ranked 173rd.
Smith finished tied fifth on his PGA Tour debut in the CIMB Classic in Malaysia last week to secure his place, the 21-year-old becoming the first player since Alistair Presnell (2010 WGC-Cadillac Championship) to finish in the top 10 in his first PGA Tour start.
American Woody Austin won the event when it was last held in 2013 – albeit at a different venue – but since turning 50 in January has been splitting his time between the PGA Tour and Champions Tour, finishing 12th in their Tour Championship on Sunday.
“It’s been a busy schedule here at the end,” Austin told a pre-tournament press conference. “I’ve played more than I wanted to. This will be five weeks in a row, which is way too much.
“But when I started playing the Champions Tour during the FedEx play-offs, I didn’t know that I would make it to the Schwab Cup, so the fact that I had a shot to get in the top 30, I went ahead and took that opportunity and played in San Antonio a couple of weeks ago instead of The McGladrey Classic, and played really well.
“So it got me into the Tour Championship. So I played again last week, which was going to be a week off. So it’s been a bit of a long stretch. This will be it for the year.”