Harrington and Clarke off the pace as Pampling leads US Senior Open

Ronan MacNamara

Padraig Harrington (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

A jaded Pádraig Harrington opened his US Senior Open defence with a three-over 74 to fall six shots off the early lead while Senior Open champion Darren Clarke is a shot further back.

Rod Pampling leads at Stevens Point on three-under on a day where just four players shot under par.

Harrington is in the midst of a gruelling schedule taking in major championships on the main tours while the mental fatigue of having won last week played a factor in his struggles on Thursday. After an opening par, the Dubliner went on an erratic run of two birdies and three bogeys in the next five holes.


Seven straight pars followed before a run of bogey, double bogey sent him tumbling down the leaderboard. He managed a birdie at the penultimate 8th hole and he admitted afterwards he was pleased to escape with a 74 in Wisconsin as he lived off jellies to boost his energy levels and improve his concentration.

“I certainly got the best I could have out of the day. I had one of those days you get the odd time. Doesn’t your mother always tell you you’re going to have days like that, like this, really struggle to focus,” said the defending champion.

“My mind was jumping about places, so bar the sixth hole, I would actually say I had a magnificent day to shoot 3-over par. Like I was never right — from the word “go” I was never comfortable.

“I struggled all the way through. Mentally, just struggling to stay focused today. It happens. Definitely off the tee was where I got punished.

Winning last week takes a lot out of you. U.S. Open the week before, as well. I had to stay eating jellies and things to get the sugar levels up. When your mind is racing, you actually have to go the other way and get a sugar rush going to get some concentration.”

Harrington’s playing partner Clarke was in the mix at plus two through nine but three-putted twice on his way home to card an ugly back nine of 41. Under normal Champions Tour circumstances both players would be all but out in a 54-hole format but the 72-holes and the toughness of the golf course give the opportunity to come from behind.

“Thankfully, this is a 72-hole tournament,” Harrington said. “And this is a particularly good golf course for chasing on. I think if this is a regular Champions Tour event, 54 holes, I would be done.”

Stay ahead of the game. Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest Irish Golfer news straight to your inbox!

More News

Leave a comment

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy & Terms of Service apply.