Padraig Harrington, teeing up on the ninth anniversary of his Oakland Hills triumph, has written off his chances after signing for an eight over par 79 and his highest score in 57 rounds of an event he captured in 2008.
He began with five straight pars before being sat on his backside in posting three doubles in succession starting at the par 15th that he was playing as his sixth.
The Dubliner, who turns 46 on the last day of this month, found the fairway with a 301-yard drive but shanked a wild 147-yard second shot way right, clearing the cart path, with his ball coming to rest against a fence from where he had to take a penalty drop. Harrington missed the green right with his fourth and then left his fifth 10-feet short from where he horribly three-putted for a double bogey 7.
At the next, the par four 16th and the start of Quail Hollow’s famed “Green Mile“ closing three holes, Harrington sent his second shot from the middle of the fairway left into water guarding the green in taking a 6.
Then on the par three, island like 17th, Harrington found the water off the tee on route to taking a double bogey 5.
His only birdie was at the par four, third hole or the 12th of his round where he landed his second shot to eight feet.
But then the writing was on the wall for his 2017 challenge when Harrington bogeyed his 14th and then recorded the fourth double of his day at the 17th where he took four shots to get down from a greenside bunker.
“I am sure I have had three doubles in a row before and while I thought the golf course was very tough, I thought the set up was very fair“, he said.
“From my perspective we waited a long time on the 15th fairway and when I got over the ball I did not realise how much of a side slope I was on and I was not comfortable over it and just hit a bad shot. I should have been making birdie but then I am making double, and then down the next I had a mud ball.”
“That is the nature of golf. If I had birdie on 15 I might have played my second on 16 to the right hand bunker but no, I tried to hit to the middle of the green.”
“I hit a bad shot on 17 but that is what happens and this is the sort of golf course it is but it is amazing how one shot can lead to a nightmare. It is a very different animal this course due to the new grass compared when we played the Wells Fargo here two years ago. I don’t do well on this grass and if you miss the fairway and you are in the long grass it is thick and that adds to the randomness of how the ball comes out.”
“But I would have to say that I don’t think that I can come back from eight over par, no.
“It was nice to hole that eight footer putt on the last to break 8o“