Ronan MacNamara in Hoylake
It’s three cuts in as many major championships for Pádraig Harrington who had to dig deep and hole clutch late putts to stick around for the weekend in Royal Liverpool.
The two-time Open champion rolled back the years, holing a birdie putt from off the green on the 16th before an eleven foot putt dropped on the par-3 17th for an up and down from below the right grandstand. Despite flirting with the internal out of bounds with his second to 18 he managed to make a stress free par for a 71 to make the cut on the number at three-over.
“I’m pleased, obviously. I played really super golf for probably 13, 14 holes, and I just couldn’t get anything out of it. Couldn’t hole a putt. Then missed a short putt on 15, which I needed, but then all of a sudden I hole two great putts on 16 and 17 when my back is to the wall, which is exceptionally pleasing,” said the three-time major winner.
“To hit a great tee shot down 18, just stood there on 18 and it just started raining. I’m on a little downslope and by the time I hit it I had a complete water bottle. I hit it right in the middle of the club face and the thing squirted out low right. I was sure it was out of bounds, and then I chipped it nicely on the green and hit a really nice chip and lagged it up maybe a foot short of what I would have liked, to two and a half feet instead of a foot.
“But as I said, a couple — I played lovely for the first — all the way through. I hit five great shots at the first to make a bogey, and a lot of my rounds are like that. A lot of good shots, couldn’t buy a putt. It was very pleasing to hole the two putts when my back was to the wall on 16 and 17. Old memories in that. Good memories.
“Yeah, you know, it’s every PGA TOUR event I’ve played this year I have made the cut.”
Things looked bleak for the 51-year-old who found himself two-over through ten and five-over for the championship which was two shots outside the cut mark. A fighter until the end, he rolled up his sleeves and battled in the chilly wind rolling in an eight-footer on 12 for a welcome birdie before holding his nerve down the stretch.
“Look, I haven’t played as well the last couple of weeks now but I’ve started driving the ball really well, not creating any drama.
“17 is an awkward hole when you get there. I’ve got 8-iron in my hand. I’m just probably not convinced as much as I should have been with it, and I just blocked it up into the wind. Looked like I had hit it on the right side of the green, in fairness, and it wasn’t my — certainly it was a save, let’s say, put it like that, the shot.
“With 8, I knew if I got any draw on it could go long like Talor Gooch. It’s a tricky hole, 17, I’ve got to say. There will be a lot of pressure on the guys coming home. It’s a lovely hole if you’re trying to make a 2, and it’s a terrible hole if you’re trying to make a 3.”
Harrington publicly ruled himself out of contention on Thursday after an opening 74 but lies just eight shots off second placed Tommy Fleetwood and just four shots off a share of tenth place.
“I’m looking for two low ones at the weekend. I’ve got to go out there and play the best golf I can on the weekend, and as I said, if I can hole some putts — gives me some confidence holing the two putts on 16 and 17 for sure.”