Pádraig Harrington shows he can still mix it with the best

Shane Lowry’s tied-fourth finish at US PGA gives him a big boost in Ryder Cup standings

Pádraig Harrington prepares to play his third shot on the 16th hole during the final round of the 2021 US PGA Championship held at the Ocean Course of Kiawah Island Golf Resort. Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Pádraig Harrington prepares to play his third shot on the 16th hole during the final round of the 2021 US PGA Championship held at the Ocean Course of Kiawah Island Golf Resort. Photo: Jamie Squire/Getty Images

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The genesis of the idea for Pádraig Harrington’s YouTube channel – Paddy’s Golf Tips – came during the first Covid-19 lockdown just over a year ago when he started posting clips on his social media platforms; and, officially launched last September, it has superbly covered most aspects of the game, everything from proper grips to putting to bunker play and correct stance and posture.

One of them, though, was also dedicated to the “older” golfer, a category in which he included himself, where one of the episodes included a visit to the Schoen Clinic, a leading orthopedic centre in London. “I only work with experts,” said Harrington at one point.

Whatever about sharing his secrets and providing insights to his subscribers, it would appear that whole venture has also provided self-help for Harrington too in prolonging his career as evidenced by his tied-fourth finish in the US PGA Championship at Kiawah Island in South Carolina, which marked the 49-year-old Dubliner’s best finish in a Major since the US Open in 2012.

This was actually his 20th appearance in a Major since that tied-fourth finish at the Olympic Club in San Francisco and, in the interim, he had missed 12 cuts in the previous 19. What the PGA at Kiawah Island confirmed, however, is that his body - mentally and physically - remains very much up to the task of competing against the young guns and potentially capable of claiming a fourth career Major going forward.

Competitive

As he acknowledged, “I walk away (from the PGA knowing) there’s nothing stopping me in my golf swing. I swing the club well enough and I hit the ball well enough and I hit it far enough to compete. Give me the right conditions, and I probably needed the right conditions even back in my heyday, and I will be competitive, no doubt about it . . . we all dream it can happen and we push for it and it keeps me getting up in the morning, it keeps me practicing. This (finish) does add a bit of confidence. I’m not too far away.”

Harrington’s tied-fourth place finish behind Phil Mickelson saw him move from 257th up to 141st in the updated official world rankings, his best ranking in four years. It also moved him up to 26th on the European Tour’s Race to Dubai standings and it earned him a payday of €378,490 ($462,250), with Lowry claiming an identical amount.

And, as Ryder Cup captain for the rescheduled match against the United States in September, Harrington’s pairing with Shane Lowry in the final round also gave him a chance to get a close-up view of his fellow Irishman under pressure.

“There’s a quality about him; he wouldn’t stand on a tee box and fear anybody. He did a good job,” attested Harrington, who has three captain’s picks, of Lowry. “He certainly did himself no harm and we’ll see how the next couple of months go.”

Lowry’s tied-fourth finish had the effect of moving him to the very fringes of automatic selection off the world points list, up to 10th on those standings. As things stand, the four automatic places off the European points list are held by Jon Rahm, Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton and Rory McIlroy, while the five places on the world points list are held by Viktor Hovland, Paul Casey, Lee Westwood, Matt Fitzpatrick and Victor Perez.

Lowry has adopted a week-on, week-off scheduling and will return to action at next week’s Memorial tournament before another week’s break and then the US Open at Torrey Pines.

Graeme McDowell is the lone Irish player in the field at this week’s Charles Schwab tournament at Colonial, while Paul Dunne, Niall Kearney, Cormac Sharvin and Jonathan Caldwell are playing in the Made in HimmerLand tournament in Denmark on the European Tour.

Meanwhile, some 24 Irish players are competing in the Irish Challenge which takes place, with no spectators allowed, at Portmarnock Links, starting on Thursday.

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