Dodgy knee stops Harrington from practicing but he insists he will fight

Ronan MacNamara
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Padraig Harrington (Photo by Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images)

Pádraig Harrington tees it up for the third successive week on the DP World Tour’s Middle-East stretch at the Ras Al Khaimah Championship but admits he is running on fumes at this stage.

Harrington has been delaying a knee surgery for many years now, taking a buggy on the course in Champions Tour practice rounds to protect it as much as possible. He has been denied that luxury on the DP World Tour this year and his right knee has limited his practice time ahead of his second start at Al Hamra Golf Club.

“I can’t practice. I walked nine holes yesterday and 12 today and my knee is hurting,” explained Harrington who is looking to become the oldest DP World Tour winner. “It’s easier on the Champions Tour where I can use a cart. I can do 18 holes but I’m in pain, I have to ice it down. That’s just life. I have other niggles with getting older, you realise you can’t do what you could as a kid. But there’s still fight in me, I’ll figure it out, get it done somehow.”

The four-time major champion came close to breaking Miguel Angel Jimenez’s record as the oldest DP World Tour winner with a fourth place finish at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship where he ran Victor Perez close on the Sunday.

With expectations high and confidence renewed, Harrington missed the cut in Dubai in bizarre fashion. The Dubliner opened with a catastrophic round of nine-over 81 before responding with a superb 65 in the rain delayed event.

“Last week felt like a long week even though I only played two rounds. The first day (in Dubai) I played like a klutz. You get that once a year. I used to get it when I was a goalkeeper as a kid, once a year you would let a back pass between your legs into the goal. They never substitute the goalkeeper off when he does that and it’s a bit like golf, you have to keep going.

“It was an easy 65 the next day, that was nice. Got a few things sorted on the weekend. I wasn’t happy with my ball flight last week so it should be a bit better this week.

“It was unusual in Dubai for the weather to be like that, but they got it done, golf course is in great shape and they turned it around. The green staff are the unsung heroes of the Tour. At some stage a set of green keepers will have to take one for the team and leave it the way it is (after a storm) so the players appreciate the work they do because every time they turn it around. You wouldn’t have known in Dubai that we had such rainfall.”

Turning his attention to tackling the Ras Al Khaimah Championship, Harrington believes there will be a premium on hitting fairways.

“This is easily the narrowest golf course I’ve seen. Even on the tough driving holes, you’ve got 15-20yards of fairway at most, about half what you would usually see. It’s extremely narrow. They’ve got heavier rough and brushed up the sand. Where you used to be in hard land, now you’re in soft sand. It’s not going to be tougher for the guys that hit it down the middle. If you hit 50% of fairways this week you are a straight driver of the ball. It will be interesting to see what it does to scoring, will make the average scoring much tougher, don’t know if it will change the top end.”

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