Padraig Harrington grabbed the honour of teeing-up first with both hands to post a four-under par 67 and be right in contention on the opening day of the Bermuda Championship.
Harrington, competing in his first PGA Tour since the first week in March, had raced to five-under par through 10 holes and while he bogeyed two of his next three holes, he bounced back with a penultimate hole birdie.
It left Europe’s Ryder Cup captain trailing four shots behind American Peter Malnati, who signed for a 63 to lead Doug Ghim and Ryan Armour by a shot in ideal scoring conditions on Atlantic Ocean island.
Harrington, who shares 15th heading into day two, was also making his first appearance in Bermuda since taking Ernie Els’ place to capture the 2012 four-man PGA Grand Slam of Golf and admits teeing off first was a first for the three-time Major winner.
“It’s the first time ever being the first tee time ever in my life, never been out first on a Thursday or Friday,” said Harrington smiling.
“It was nice. You know, it’s nice, I have no problem getting up and get going.
“You know what, I probably changed over the years. If this was 10 years ago, I would probably be getting up three and a half hours before my tee time, I would be doing all the physio and training and all sorts of stuff.
“Now at my age I just get up and I do a few stretches and off. I could go on a much quicker time frame, so I really don’t mind that early tee time.
“I played okay, holed a putt for birdie early on and managed to build on that,” he said.
“It’s an interesting course. There’s a couple of shots you’ve got to hit well on it, some par-3s are tough. And then there’s plenty of opportunities if you could — probably six or seven holes if you played them well, the rest give up some opportunities.
“So, I kept myself out of trouble on those holes. You know, you feel like you could have done a few more on the other ones.”
Harrington was returning to competition since contesting four straight events in Europe with a best result of T9th at the Scottish Open.
And with the 2020 Ryder Cup rescheduled to September, 2021, Europe’s captain was still in Ryder Cup mode.
“Right now, it’s very quiet with Ryder Cup duties and it’s kind of all about me now at the moment,” he responded.
“Come first of January and the points start up again, obviously there will be a bit more detail. I think how do I balance it?
“Basically, I’m older and I know I can’t do as much, so that’s it, yeah. I’m not — I just have to take it a little bit easier and not, you know, do my old schedule and that kind of suits the Ryder Cup because I’m busy with that.”
Seamus Power, Harrington’s team-mate from the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, was out in the afternoon half of the draw and got to two-under par through 12 holes before parring home for a round of 69. The West Waterford man finds himself just inside the top-50 at minus-two as he looks to play his way into the weekend rounds in Bermuda.
Round two tee times (Irish time)
- 10.35am – Seamus Power
- 15.05 – Harrington
Full scoring HERE