Harrington’s golf shines brightly in Hollywood

Bernie McGuire

Padraig Harrington looks over the second green during the second round of the 2023 U.S. Open at The Los Angeles Country Club in Los Angeles, Calif. on Friday, June 16, 2023. (Jeff Haynes/USGA)

Age is just a number as Padraig Harrington will attest on day three of the 123rd U.S. Open in Beverly Hills.

At nearly 52-years, the oldest player in the field to make the halfway cut presented his far younger contestants the sight of his name sharing the early clubhouse third day lead at the host Los Angeles CC.

Harrington grabbed an ultra-stunning eighth hole eagle and two birdies in an outstanding ‘moving day’ round of 67, walking proudly from the course just a few minutes before 3pm local time as proud as an Irishman could be.


It had been a long Friday wait for Harrington before confirmation that his two-over 36-hole tally was good enough for him to play all four rounds, and in his first U.S. Open since 2013.

Indeed, it is Harrington’s 12th time he will play all four days in 17 U.S. Open showings since his debut way back in 1997.

“I try and stay away from those expectations”, when Harrington was asked his chances.

“Most of my golf now, which is the way it should always be, is about managing me. I’m not really trying to worry too much about everybody else. I’m trying to figure out what I’m doing, mainly mentally.

“As I said, the last couple years on the Champions Tour has shown you when you’re in contention it shows up a lot, and I’ve seen the error of my ways.

“Even this week, again, I wasn’t as good as I could be, but I see some good stuff. Physically I’m capable and I know what to do mentally, I just sometimes — it’s a bit of a stumbling block to get myself to do the good stuff mentally”.

The Californian sun was at it’s best on day three with a cloudless blue sky and a then temperature of 70 degrees Fahrenheit greeting Harrington and playing partner, Cameron Young in teeing-up in the seventh group at near 10.40am local time.

However, it was not the start the reigning U.S. Senior Open champ sought, finding a devilish lie in a leftside fairway bunker, leaving him no option but to chip on route to a great par save.

‘Par save’ would be the tone over Harrington’s early holes, saving par after being well short, and with his ball rolling back into a native area at the uphill par-3 fourth hole, and with Harrington brilliantly chipping-out from 45-feet to just two-feet for a par.

He pared the fifth but after a stunning bunker shot at the short par-3 sixth, Harrington just missed his birdie putt.

Seven holes and seven pars for the Dubliner.

Then came the lucky eighth, a par-5 measuring 526-yards but with Harrington bringing the hole to its knees despite his tee shot going way left, from where he had 211-yards to the green.  Harrington played a super shot over trees, his ball landing about 20-yards shy of the green rolling up onto the ‘short stuff’,  and moments ahead of generating the loudest crowd roar of the morning with his putt never missing the target.

Heading to the turn it was back on the par train with Harrington.

Though there was then the strangest sight down the left side at 10th hole when playing partner’s Cameron Young’s tee shot bounced into the golf ball holder of a motorised golf cart, belonging to one of the TV crews. Young and his caddy arrived shaking their heads in disbelief, but with Young getting a free drop and then, to the huge delight of a growing following he walked off with a par-saving ‘4’.

However, Harrington was not about to wait around, advising he was going to hit to the green for par.  He then pared the 11th but was again on the move in holing a super 32-footer for birdie at the 12th, to get back to level for the championship.

Pars followed at 13 and 14 ahead of a second birdie of his day, holing a five-footer at the ultra-short 81-yard, par-3 15th.

He dropped his only shot of the day at the 16th ahead of a pair of closing pars.

“I’m just going to play, same as today, I’m just going to go and hit every shot individually,” he said looking ahead to the final round. I know it’s cliche and all that. A lot of it is actually, I hate so say, it’s a bit of practice, just seeing if I can go out there and keep my head mentally in the game. I do some terrible stuff when —

“So, I’ll stand on that first tee and I’ll pick a line off the first tee, and I might go — I could probably try and hit it at the Beverly sign with a bit of a fade in a right-to-left wind, and the whole concept is I don’t change my mind midway down and try and not hit it right or try and not hit it left. If I stuck to my guns, I’ll hit a good shot, and if I don’t, I’ll hit the other shot. It is 18 holes of practice.

“I’m sounding like I’m making that as simple — it is as simple as that. It’s just 18 holes of mental practice, which I just can’t seem to recreate that on the range, so I have to be on the golf course to do it.

“Go out there tomorrow, and the less I get in my way, the better I’ll be at the next major.”

Harrington ended what a most entertaining round as the second highest-placed European player on the leaderboard.

The only player in front of him was Rory McIlroy.

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