At least Padraig Harrington still has his sense of humour.
Playing with Tiger Woods for one day can suck the life out of a player, not to mention wreak havoc on his game. Harrington’s done it for three straight rounds now, and while the results aren’t anything he cares to remember, he hasn’t given up hope, either.
“It’s not bad to have a day off. Hopefully I’ll see him again on Sunday,” Harrington said, drawing laughs.
In a five-way tie for second four strokes behind Woods at the U.S. PGA Championship, he’s got as good a shot as anybody. Which really isn’t saying much. Woods is 8-0 when leading a major after 36-holes.
“That really has to be my focus for the next 27 holes, if I can get within shouting distance with nine holes to go,” Harrington said. “You just don’t know, anything can happen.”
Unfortunately for the Irishman, he’s gotten to know that all too well in the last week.
The three-time major champion led from the start last week at the Bridgestone Invitational, and he and Woods had a magnificent duel on Sunday. With a one-stroke lead and Woods in the trees on 16, Harrington appeared to be on the verge of locking up his first win since last year’s U.S. PGA Championship.
But he rushed his way into a stunning meltdown after he was put on the clock, making a triple bogey. He finished four behind Woods.
The two were paired again for the first two days at Hazeltine, and the atmosphere was much different. Woods has a deep respect for Harrington, one of the few players who can rival Woods’ determination and focus. Without a title on the line, the two talked and laughed during their rounds, clearly enjoying their time together.
Once again, though, Woods came out on top.
The world’s No. 1 had a one-shot lead after the first round, when he was bogey-free. Taking a share of the lead when Woods bogeyed the 10th hole on Friday, the Irishman responded with three straight bogeys.
“Things weren’t looking great after 13,” he said.
He got one stroke back on 14, and then another with a shot so spectacular, Woods said it was worth the price of admission.
Not only did Harrington put his tee shot into the left bunker, but it was on an uphill slope with 301 yards still to the green. He hit a 3-wood and nearly fell over because of the unbalanced lie. The ball hit in front of a greenside bunker, took a big bounce over it, rolled through some rough and onto the green.
“He did say to me actually he would have paid to have seen it. So I asked him for 50 bucks,” Harrington said, clearly relishing the joke.
Actually, he’d rather have a stroke or two back. Like maybe his 3-footer for par on 18, which he missed.
“I’m disappointed missing the putt on 18. I’m disappointed not to be a shot better. I’m disappointed not to be a couple of shots better,” Harrington said. “I’ve got to play well on the weekend. Whether I’m 3 under or 4 under, I’ve got to play very well on the weekend to overhaul Tiger.”