Padraig Harrington will take the unusual step of teeing-up in Canada later today in his quest to qualify for next week’s U.S. Open in California.
Harrington, 47 will be among those competing over 36-holes on two courses at the Rattlesnake Point Golf Club in Milton in an effort to qualify for the year’s third Major commencing on June 13th at the famed Pebble Beach course.
Joining Harrington in Milton will be his 2016 Olympic Games team-mate, Seamus Power who is among just 37 players on the courses some 30 kilometres north of Hamilton in Ontario.
The duo will be looking to join fellow Irish players Rory McIlroy, Shane Lowry and 2010 Pebble Beach winner Graeme McDowell who are already exempt into the U.S. Open.
The USGA, as organisers of the U.S. Open, have arranged for the Canadian qualifier for a first time on the suburban Hamilton course, due to the move this coming week of the RBC Canadian Open.
A huge cash injection by sponsors RBC has seen the Canadian Open rewarded by the PGA Tour with a ‘better’ season time slot, as opposed to its long-standing tournament allocation in the week following the Open Championship.
McIlroy is one who has reacted to the change in teeing up in the Canadian national Open for a first time in his career.
RBC, as sponsors of the Euro 6.8m event, afforded Europe’s Ryder Cup Captain an invitation into the Canadian Open and hence Harrington’s decision to throw his Wilson Staff cap into the U. S. Open qualifying ring.
The Rattlesnake Point club is among 10 venues in three countries hosting U.S Open qualifying.
A number of Irish will be in the field teeing-up over 36-holes at Walton Heath in Surrey where Harrington has been a regular, but that’s now changed with the move of the BMW PGA to September.
Belfast’s Michael Hoey is the only Irishman competing at Walton Heath, the location where Kiwi Michael Campbell qualified in 2005 and went to deny Tiger Woods U.S. Open victory at Pinehurst
The remaining eight courses hosting qualifying are in the States, including once again the Brookside County Club and Scioto Country Club courses in suburban Columbus, Ohio, catering for those who competed in last night’s Memorial event in close-by Dublin where Patrick Cantlay claimed victory.
USA Ryder Cup captain, Steve Stricker is one of those teeing-up in Columbus.
Harrington has contested 16 U.S. Open’s since making his debut in 1997 at Congressional with his best finish being a T4th in 2012 at the Olympic club in San Francisco along with a pair of fifth place results (2000 & 2006).
He had been exempt for a good number of years on the back of his double Open Championship (2007-2008) and PGA Championship successes.
However, that exemption expired in 2013 and since then he has been unsuccessful in qualifying.
Given the likelihood of withdrawals at each of the 10 locations hosting qualifying, the USGA are unable to determine how many spots will be available.