Rónán MacNamara in Hoylake
Pádraig Harrington cut a deflated figure following his opening round 74 at the 151st Open Championship as expectation turned into disappointment as his hopes fell flat on their face on Thursday morning in Royal Liverpool.
A barren run of bogey, bogey, double bogey from the fourth hole struck a hammer blow to Harrington’s Claret Jug hopes before they even got off the ground and his day was summed up by an altercation with LIV golfer Talor Gooch with the Dubliner much too agitated and antsy out of the blocks as he struggled under the weight of his recent good form.
After dropping a shot on the fourth after flying the green with his approach, he pulled his tee shot into gorse at the par-5 fifth and sternly told Gooch with a wide eyed glare, “Watch your feet,” as they walked off the tee.
Fortunate not to lose two balls on the same hole, he had to take a penalty drop from the gorse and did well to find his third shot after his five wood flew left towards heavy rough. There would be no heroic par save.
However, he refused to pin the blame on the quick stepping Gooch who earlier vacated the first green while Harrington was putting out.
He said: “The problem was me. I lifted my head a bit on the backswing, and I just pulled it. It happens.”
Harrington launched an ill fated mid-round comeback as he followed a birdie two at the ninth with a bogey at the 10th. But back-to-back birdies at the tough 13th and 14th gave him renewed hope before a clumsy three-putt bogey at the short 17th was sandwiched between frustrating pars on par fives 15 and 18.
“After the two birdies in the tough holes at 13 and 14 and hitting the fairway at 15 and 18, I really could have been home in level par, which would have been okay, so it’s just a disappointing finish,” he said.
The 2007 and 2008 Open champion was bullish about his chances saying ‘I can win this no doubt about it’ earlier in the week as he looked to combine a third Claret Jug bid with a European Ryder Cup charge. Outside the top-100 at the time of writing, both seem as impossible as the other with Harrington conceding his chances of contending in Hoylake this weekend were over.
“The problem with with with majors now is you don’t come back, you don’t compete, you’ve got to keep yourself inside that 15 spots,” Harrington said who missed the cut here in 2006 and 2014. “You don’t come back from way out in majors.
“You can make cuts and things like that, but you’ve got to be hanging around near that top 10.
“We’re completely bombarded with all the different gambling sites and stats these days. We know it’s basically not a realistic chance unless you are within X shots of the lead and in X position after two rounds.
“So yes, three over takes me out of the tournament.”