On the eve of this week’s Genesis Invitational in suburban LA, recovered European Ryder Cup captain, Padraig Harrington has been afforded an afternoon tee time on day one of the $9.3m event at the Riviera Country Club. It will be the first time since he won the 2008 Open that Harrington’s not played a practice round ahead of a tournament
Harrington’s 10-day self-quarantining after testing positive for Covid-19 symptoms ends Thursday morning (US time) when he’s free to re-enter the outside world. It means he will then have to get himself from The Lodge Hotel at Pebble Beach, where he’s been since arriving into California after being forced to skip last week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am, south to San Monica in bustling suburban LA.
It’s a 515-kilometre drive south through nightmare Los Angeles traffic to the Riviera Country Club, or, he could hire a private jet from Monterey Airport to close-by Santa Monica Airport. Flying time is around an hour and that’s aside from getting himself to the airport and then from the airport to Riviera.
There still remains the matter of having to be tested for Covid-19 under the rules of the PGA Tour, the same pre-event procedure that ruled him out of the AT&T. Harrington had undertaken a test upon arrival from the Phoenix Open to California but then explained to RTE’s Greg Allen what then unfolded.
“Where I picked it up, I’m not sure,” he said. “Some people get it, and some people don’t. I did second guess myself, but I’m not at the moment worrying too much about it. It is what it is. I took all the precautions I could beforehand.
“I realised quickly it wouldn’t be a serious hospitalisation, but you are still worried by the side effects and long-term. I tested negative last Saturday (6 February) to get the charter flight here [to Pebble Beach] and I was positive on Monday. I had a high viral load on Monday and had symptoms on Tuesday. Even when I had the symptoms, in a different year, I would have thought, ‘I’ll push through it’.
After being in lockdown mode overlooking the first fairway at Pebble Beach, Harrington seems desperate to get out onto Riviera.
“If I didn’t play Riviera, it would be another two weeks until my next tournament in Bay Hill, which is quite a long time to be waiting around,” he said.
And as RTE pointed out, this week’s Genesis Open at the iconic Riviera Country Golf Club will mark Harrington’s fourth PGA Tour event of the season. He failed to make the cut at his last, the Phoenix Open, his first missed cut in eight tournaments, his best run since 2012.
“I started putting better and that helps,” Harrington added. “Once you start putting better, it takes some pressure off the rest of your game. I have driven the ball well. It’s easy to play golf when you drive the ball well. Those two sides of my game have been pretty good.”