By Bernie McGuire in Abu Dhabi.
Padraig Harrington reckons Seamus Power just needs to stick to what he’s doing and don’t go changing his new season schedule and he’ll be heading to a maiden Masters.
Power’s exciting form continues to be rewarded with the Waterford golfer sharing third place in last Sunday’s concluding Sony Open in Hawaii. The effort has seen the quietly spoken 34-year-old burst into the world’s top-50 at 49th and now just one place behind Shane Lowry. Power now only needs to stay in the leading 50 as of Monday, 28th March and he’ll be teeing up at Augusta National.
Power first came to prominence in 2016 when selected to join Harrington in Ireland’s Olympic Games team in Rio but after years of struggling and travelling to virtually all corners of the U.S. to retain his PGA Tour card, his win last July in Kentucky now sees him exempt to the end of the 2022/23 season.
Unfortunately, his Barbasol triumph is among a handful of ‘full FedEx Cup point allocation’ events on the Tour not recognised by the Masters.
However, now one place inside the top-50, Power will qualify for the Players Championship in the second week of March and the WGC – Dell Technologies Match-Play Championship in the last week of March.
It’s for this reason, Harrington, a veteran of 15 Masters between 2000 and 2015, says that Power does not need to change anything down a path that looks headed to the front gates bearing a sign stating: Augusta National. Members Only.
“My simple advice to Seamus is that he keeps on doing what he is doing,” said Harrington during a practice round for this week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.
“Seamus is easily good enough to be teeing-up at Augusta National and as we are now seeing, he is trusting in his ability.
“There’s no need to go chasing tournaments in order to try and qualify, so he just needs to stick with his normal schedule and whatever works best for him and there’s no point in adding or taking away.
“His effort last week in Hawaii was another great result for Seamus and I’m really delighted for him. I’ve said before he’s always been a very good player and just lacked a little bit of self-belief but the win at the Barbasol and some other great performances has given him that belief
“He now feels he’s comfortable and relaxed, and he’s certainly delivering. I see also he’s up to 49th in the world and that’s a continuing benefit of all these great results he’s been producing.
“It would have been nice in winning the Barbasol Championship to have earned a Masters invitation but, I guess, that is the conditions for that tournament but the way he’s playing, and with still more than two months till Augusta, he could very well win again and secure the invitation, but then the way Seamus has been playing he should qualify in being inside the top-50. I’m just delighted for him.”
Harrington was surprised to learn that if Power does earn an Augusta invitation, it will be a maiden major championship for the now Las Vegas-based Irishman.
“Is that right? Wow! What a first major to be contesting in your career though as I said, he’s unlucky not to have been in the Masters already given his PGA Tour win,” said Harrington who has qualified for the Masters courtesy of his tied-fourth finish at last season’s PGA Championship.
“Anyway, he looks assured of correcting that as he’s into some of the bigger events in the countdown to the Masters such as The Players and there’s also the Match-Play, and they’re huge Word Ranking events.
“So, stick to what he’s doing and he’s sure to be heading to Augusta.”
Harrington is kick-starting his 27th season in the pro-ranks in the UAE capital where he will join fellow former Ryder Cup captains Thomas Bjorn and Colin Montgomerie in the field tackling the Yas Links course.
Though unlike the events in a Yas Island hotel in September 2013 when Paul McGinley was named 2014 European Team captain, Harrington indicated there will not be a similar announcement this week for his 2023 captaincy replacement.
“No, I have not heard a word about the new captaincy,” he said.
Nowadays, a new European Captain is now chosen in the meeting rooms at Tour HQ in Wentworth where a panel featuring the Chair of the European Tour Board, the European Tour CEO, and the immediate past three captains, being Harrington, Bjorn, and Darren Clarke who will choose the 2023 Captain.