by Bernie McGuire, Yas Links, Abu Dhabi
It continues to speak volumes for Padraig Harrington’s character that he’s intending to reach out to Tour rookie Tom McKibbin, in arranging a practice round ahead of this coming week’s Hero Dubai Desert Classic, and it won’t be your normal practice round either!
Word of this came after Harrington’s superb second round of 64 here at Yas Links when he had been speaking of such qualities as attitude, experience, emotions and also dealing with adversity and so on, when he was asked what he would say to the 20-year-old McKibbin after his bitter disappointment around 9am earlier on Saturday at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship at Yas Links.
Bad light forced officials to call a halt to play on Friday leaving just one group to complete their second round in the $US 9m event leaving McKibbin needing to return to the course at 8am to complete his two remaining holes.
McKibbin was lying at three-under and two shots inside the one-under cut-off mark. He pared the 17th but in a bitter blow he stuck his second shot into the water down the left side of the 18th and in taking a double-bogey ‘7’ missed the two-under ‘cut’ by a shot.
Disappointingly it ended the run of four straight four-rounders for the Galgorm Castle-attached McKibbin since moving onto the DP World Tour full-time at the end of last year.
Harrington was asked, if in meeting-up with McKibbin, what advice he would offer Ireland’s newest golfing superstar but in doing do, the 36-time pro winner told the tale involving his long-time caddy, Ronan Flood and how Harrington sought to find out what McKibbin had done earlier in the day.
“You know, when I asked Ronan on the golf course how Tom had got on, he went very quiet. He didn’t say anything”, said Harrington.
“I pressed him and then he said, ‘yes’. I said, I knew he didn’t birdie because it would have dropped me. I worked out my tee time. I knew he didn’t birdie because it would have dropped me back to 9.30am.
“I didn’t think much about it and then I was out on the golf course and I said well, ‘did he finish par, par’, and then Ronan didn’t want to say because I was on 17 when I was asking — or I was on 15 and he knew — Bernie, and I wasn’t asking either.
“So, Ronan wouldn’t tell me that information. Maybe I should be happy that I fanned it out to the right down the right of 18”.