A stunning closing eagle saw Pádraig Harrington charge into the outright lead after the opening round of the Shaw Charity Classic in Canada.
Harrington holed out from the fringe on the 18th for a three to ascend to the top of the leaderboard and sign for a six-under 64 to lead by one from Kirk Triplett.
The three-time major champion kicked off his family holiday to the Great White North with a bogey-free round which included a fast start. Three birdies in six holes set the tone for the day as he turned in 32. A birdie on 11 saw him move to four-under for the day before the icing on the cake came on 18.
“Surely to eagle the last is definitely the icing on the cake for a good day,” chuckled Harrington who soaked in the rapturous roars from the gallery.
“I think the key, it’s not as easy said as it is done, but I got a good start. So you make a couple of birdies on a tough day early on, you’ve got something in the bank. You know you’ve got something. If something goes wrong, you’re still in it. So a quick start, a good start was very important.
“You know, stayed patient after that. It was tough in the wind, but I was in a good place nearly all the round, so it wasn’t — most things worked out for me. I did putt well, I holed out well. I certainly had a lot of three- and four-footers today, you know, with the pace of the greens and the wind you can have, so that was very encouraging.”
While Irish golf fans will be pleased with the US Senior Open champion’s great finish, he still has work to do to be considered a cool dad in the Harrington household with his two sons focused on enjoying a dream trip to Canada rather than his exploits on the golf course.
“I’ve got my family with me, so yeah, I’ll just chill out with them. I’ve got my two teenage sons and they won’t care that I’m leading the tournament. Yeah, we’ll just chill out, we’ll go for dinner. I won’t overdo anything. I’m not going to start — you know, I’ll take it easy rather than anything else over the next couple of days. You want to stay as fresh as you can I’m sure with the wind today and that will have taken a lot out of me. Yeah, just take it easy over the next couple days, spend time with my family. They keep me pretty grounded.
“It’s been a long time since they’ve been at a tournament when I’ve been leading, so maybe hopefully they’ll be a bit excited, but this is normal life for us around the tour, so we’ll just get on with it for the next 48 hours.”
The 50-year-old hasn’t had time to take in some of the towering mountains the area has to offer and a late tee time on Saturday will do little to free up time for him to take part in some family activities.
Harrington will instead turn his attentions to winning a second Champions Tour title and he feels adjusting to the altitude will be key.
“The difficulty today with the wind was we’re at altitude. Trying to dial in altitude, the wind, if the temperature warmed up to have an effect with the altitude, it really obviously worked out well for me today and I didn’t overthink it because it was working out well. But I can see guys, there’s no doubt you get going in the wrong direction today and you’re going to second guess a lot of things.
“That’s what I was talking about, I got early momentum so I wasn’t second guessing things whereas I’m sure the altitude here really does make it very awkward in that sense because this is very high up and it should be going, the ball should be going a long way, but I’ve played three days now and it hasn’t had a big effect. It’s had some effect.
“I’m actually, I won’t say I’m anxious, but that’s something I have to think about for the next two days. If it warms up, how far will the golf ball go, and it’s something to manage. Like I say, I haven’t played a practice round when it has been going on the course. I think the guys were saying on Monday, would it have been Monday? Tuesday it was going forever, so wait and see,” added Harrington who finished runner-up to Darren Clarke at the Senior Open in Gleneagles.