European Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington is quietly-confident of returning to competition at next week’s Genesis Invitational near Santa Monica. Harrington is presently quarantining at The Lodge Hotel in Pebble Beach after testing positive for coronavirus last Monday ahead of this week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am.
The Dubliner’s 10-day self-isolation period, adhering to PGA rules and protocols, will end on Wednesday and on the eve of next week’s whopping €7.7m event on the Riviera course. It will mean a five-hour drive north from Pebble Beach to the famed ‘Home to the Movie Stars’ course with Harrington possibly managing some pre-tournament practice.
— Padraig Harrington (@padraig_h) February 11, 2021
It’s not the ideal preparation but Harrington seems to have his mind made-up while we recall what unfolded at the 2008 Open Championship, the last time Harrington went into a tournament without the benefit of a practice round.
“I’m doing good and I basically would call what I have a mild flu,” said Harrington speaking to Golf Week magazine. “I have symptoms I know I’ve had in the past where I would have tried to go out and work and practice and get through it and then I’d get home and say, ‘I really should have stayed in bed for 24 hours and taken some medicine.’
“But if this is my outcome, I’m actually delighted and very lucky. If all I get from this is a couple of days of the mild flu and I don’t have any long-term effects, it’s not the end of the world. I’ll have the antibodies in my body. But COVID is not to be messed with. I want to make sure to do everything I can to beat this. I know I have to do all the stuff I need to do and I am doing that.”
Knowing Harrington, he’s also not one to sit still within the luxury of his second floor hotel room laid-out adjacent to the stunning Pebble Beach course, where rooms range from his $US1,060/night for his ‘Fairway View’ looking out over the first fairway to $5,000/night for a ‘Sloat’ suite that commands a view out over 18th green and the Pacific Ocean.
“There are worse places to be than in The Lodge, looking out on the first tee at Pebble Beach and catching up on my Netflix,” Harrington said. “I did the whole two seasons of Mindhunter. Eighteen hours I got through. It’s excellent.
“I’m texting people about the Ryder Cup. You could have a competition on how many cups of tea I’m going to drink these 10 days. I’m at about 6 to 8 before 12 o’clock in the day. And last night I had the nicest curry I have ever had. It was just phenomenal. The coconut, the carrots, the broccoli.”
And as you would also expect, Harrington has turned his room into an indoor golf practice facility boasting training aids and an indoor portable putting green.
“Physically, you can work on drills but you can never recreate the speed of a golf swing without hitting a ball so I’m not doing any of that,” he said. “I’m still taking it very easy. I don’t want to stress my body. The good thing about the Genesis is that it’s a relatively easy drive north to LA, so I can leave here Wednesday morning and be there for the afternoon.
“I recall the last time I played without practice rounds was the 2008 Open at Royal Birkdale. But I have to feel good and have to determine if I could be ready to play without hitting golf balls for 10 days. I have to feel healthy. If so, hopefully I’ll have a late tee time.
“A friend of mine had Covid and I’m in contact with him and he tells me what to expect. That is so important. He’s told me that I will feel things and wonder if it’s coming back, is it getting worse, things like that. And if I feel something, I rest. So, getting better is the most important thing. That’s all that matters right now.”