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Thursday, October 22, 2020

Harrington reveals obsession with keeping up with the young guns

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In one of his frankest revelations for some time, Padraig Harrington has revealed his obsession to keep-up with a younger generation of competitors.

Harrington added a second round three-under par 69 to his opening 66 to be in the comfort of the clubhouse sharing fifth place at nine-under at the inaugural Scottish Championship on the Torrance course at the Fairmont Resort.

The current World No. 342 grabbed four birdies and dropped one shot to be trailing just three shots behind England’s Matt Wallace who had rounds of 65 and 67 to lead the field at 11-under par.

Wallace, with Belfast bagman Dave McNeilly calling the shots, managed six birdies and dropped just one shot for his only bogey over two rounds.

Frenchman Adrien Saddier, with a pair of 67s, is in second place at 10-under par.

Harrington is this week contesting his 445th European Tour event since making his Tour debut in 1995, and now aged 47, the 15-time Tour winner has spoken very frankly of the drive he has to remain competitive.

“I want to be competitive at the top level,” he said.

“I’ve been obsessed with trying to keep up with these young guys. I really can at times. I’ve a lot more speed on the range than I have on the course, I see days where it’s good.

“My whole career I’ve been one level down from the longest hitters, and I’m still there now. I wouldn’t hit it as far as the longest hitters. If it was a long-drive competition I’d go for it, but not on the golf course. I’m hitting it straight – and a decent distance. Yesterday I gained 2.9 shots off the tee, which is unheard of for me. Driving it well and putting it well is a good combination.

“I tried everything and more than Bryson. I’m very impressed with Bryson because it’s really hard to change. I know he had all that speed but being able to bring that to the golf course is quite impressive.

“Why people didn’t see this in 1996, Tiger had a huge length advantage – a great driver of the ball. He was so long off the tee he ended up playing a softer golf ball than the rest of us in the 2000s. He was still longer but played with a golf ball that nobody else could have played with, because it was so soft.

“Then Rory and DJ came along. They were more of a change because when you have one long guy, it doesn’t matter, because he can’t win every week. When you have five, six then all of a sudden ten or 20 you have to pick one of those.

“If there’s 20 long guys on Tour you have to pick one of them to win every week, it’s a matter of who plays well. One, it’s still okay, I won’t be around but in ten or 15 years’ time you’ll have 20 or 30 guys on Tour like Cameron Champ – close to 200 mph ball speed, within themselves, not swinging it out of their boots, hitting it nicely. I’m glad I won’t be around to compete with them.

“Since I started doing Paddy’s golf tips (my social media numbers) really went up. They multiplied. People seemed to enjoy it. I think I hit the people I wanted to – those weekend golfers.

“A lot of the coaching you see out there is for the elite players or students of the game. To tell an amateur golfer to lay the club down in their downswing – what does that mean? For people out there trying to do that, you’re not going to gain anything.

“I’m trying to hit the person who plays once a week, the beginner or a casual golfer – get your head straight so everybody can enjoy the game. I believe everybody should be able to get down to single figures.”

Meanwhile, Ulsterman Jonathan Caldwell muscled his way near the top producing seven birdies in a six-under par 66 for an eight-under par tally.

For the 36-year old Caldwell it was his second lowest score of the season.

“It’s a good score with the breeze now getting up, so I am pleased to have been out early and be able to take advantage of the benign conditions,” said Caldwell.

“The conditions suited me right down to the ground so hopefully the tougher weather is coming in this weekend.

“I tend to do well on tough golf courses in tough conditions and when the premium is on finding fairways.

“The good thing about my game this week is that I am driving it very well, touch wood. If I can continue to drive the ball, I think I can continue to score well.”

Both Gavin Moynihan and Cormac Sharvin missed the weekend cut mark while Niall Kearney withdrew.

Full scoring HERE

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