Wrist injury, what wrist injury as Padraig Harrington steals the Irish Open show

HE was battling a wrist injury ahead of the tournament, but that it proved no handicap wasn’t a first for Padraig Harrington as he put the ailment firmly to one side to card a course record 63 to begin his bid for Irish Open glory at Lahinch on Thursday.
Famously Harrington overcame a similar injury worry back in 2008 to win his second successive British Open title when triumphing at the 2008 renewal of the Claret Jug battle at Royal Birkdale.
Eleven years on it was a stroll around the Lahinch according to the man himself as he posted a scintillating seven under par total — his first competitive round on the links since his 1995 Irish Close final win over Richie Coughlan.
What’s more it was his first stroke play round on the course since he led the qualifiers into the match-play stage with a five under round of 66 — this time he went three better with a 63 for that seven under total on the par 70 course.
“I didn’t have to work that hard and I wasn’t out of position very much all day,” he mused afterwards. “The first real chip shot I had was on 11 where I didn’t get up and down. It was that kind of day.
“I know I keep using the word pleasant and nice, but that’s what it kind of was like out there. Myself and Poulter were having a stroll, having a chat and good things were happening, which obviously makes it easier.
“It was pretty straightforward. And I won’t say the momentum was with me – good things were happening – but it was a stress-free round,” he added.
He leads the way by one shot from South African Zander Lombard who hit four birdies in the last five holes for a six under par round of 64.
Harrington was quoted at 100-1 before the tournament to win a second Irish Open title — his first in 12 years since he bridged a 25-year gap for Ireland with his 2007 win in Adare.
“The wise man might have had an each-way bet on me at that,” he quipped after his round, “but it would’ve been a big call for anybody to predict that I was going to come out here and win it.
“I’m in good form now, 7-under. This gives me a lot of different scenarios where I can be in with a chance of winning on Sunday.”
It wouldn’t be his first time to follow up a course record opening round at Lahinch with a tournament victory — he did on his last visit here when winning the Irish Amateur Close title of 1995.


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