Harrington from Penthouse to Cellar in rain-affected Hero Dubai Desert Classic

Bernie McGuire

Padraig Harrington wrestling his way around Dubai (Photo by David Cannon/Getty Images)

Bernie McGuire

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By Bernie McGuire in Dubai.

It’s the cruel nature of golf that you can be rubbing shoulders in the penthouse one week, as Padraig Harrington was when in contention in Abu Dhabi, but then find yourself all on your lonesome as a cellar dweller a week later.

Harrington tumbled from fourth on the Yas Links course to the bottom of the board in Dubai with a nine-over-par 81 at the completion of the opening round of the now severely rain-delayed Hero Dubai Desert Classic here at the Emirates Club.

The four-time winner on last year’s Champions Tour was eight over after 14 holes on Thursday when poor light halted play ahead of returning for the further delayed 10am restart to his round.

Harrington proceeded to par his 15th and 16th but ended with back-to-back bogeys and in 132nd and last place at nine-over and four more shots than the duo sharing 130th spot.

Whether or not Harrington may be carrying a niggling injury is uncertain but it was his highest DP World Tour score since a round of 80 nearly 16-years ago on day two of the 2007 US Open.

At the pointed end of the $US 9m event, Ian Poulter and Swedish amateur Ludvig Aberg officially shared the first-round honours with seven-under 65s.

Aberg, 23, contesting a third DP World Tour event after becoming last year’s Ben Hogan award winner for the best US college golfer of 2022, was teeing-up this week thanks to an invitation and responded with eight birdies.

Poulter’s round was bogey-free with seven birdies including a birdie to start and a birdie to end.

McIlroy officially ended the first round sharing third place with a 66 with three others including Patrick Reed, Louis De Jager and Angel Hidalgo.

As reported earlier by Irish Golfer Magazine McIlroy brilliantly capped his round with the three holes he had left to play between 10am and 11am local UAE time. He returned to the course to birdie his 16th hole (7th on the card) then holed a 116-yard shot for an eagle ‘2’ at his 17th and birdied the last.

“My wedge and my putter saved me yesterday and got me back into red numbers. Today, again, I couldn’t tell you if I played better or worse because there wasn’t enough evidence,” he said.

“So, a bit of work on the range and hopefully I’ll have a better sort of handle on things.”

When asked how many players have played  7, 8, 9 in seven shots, he responded: “No idea, might be a first. Great way to finish off the round and it puts me in a great position for the tournament and like I feel lucky.

“I’m lucky to be in this position. I could have been at least four or five shots worse.”

Shane Lowry also finished strongly in his opening round, birdieing his closing two holes in a score 70. Lowry was drawn to tee-up in the afternoon half of the opening day’s play but it was not till after 10am Friday he had an official scorecard in his back pocket.

And Tom McKibbin was officially credited with a share of 105th at two-over heading into his second round. The Galgorm Castle attached Irishman was among just 12 players to complete their rounds on Thursday but then did not tee-up on Friday at all .

McKibbin’s adjusted second round tee time is out first at 10am Saturday morning local UAE time.

IRISH TEE TIMES (Irish Time ) – Saturday Round Two

  • Tom McKibbin – 6am
  • Rory McIlroy – 6.30am
  • Padraig Harrington – 6.50am
  • Shane Lowry – TBA
  • Full scoring HERE

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