On the eve of the U.S. Open at Bethpage, Long Island Padraig Harrington has promised to go back to basics in a bid to recapture the form that saw him win three majors in 15 months.
"I've been trying to get to the bottom of my swing, trying to figure something out. Certainly the last eight months I've been heavily focused on it," he told the Mirror newspaper.
Harrington will tee off at 8.06 a.m. with Tiger Woods on Thursday, as well as Masters champion Angel Cabrera in the marquee pairing of the first round.
The Dubliner’s workaholic nature seems to have worked against him this year. In early May, he admitted in an interview with the Guardian that he had overstepped the mark a little.
"I have a tendency to get too obsessed with my golf swing, and it has been pointed out to me by several people this week that I have gone too far,'' Harrington told the English newspaper.
So much so that in the same article he admitted that an “intervention“ by his wife, caddie (and brother-in-law) Ronan Flood and sports psychologist Bob Rotella had taken place.
But, intervention or not, the stats from his 2009 US PGA season to date do not make for good reading. 15 starts and only seven cuts made. Of those seven full weeks of golf, Harrington has only finished in the top 25 three times and is currently 108th on the Fedex Cup list.
Harrington’s forays on the European Tour have not been much better, failing to make the cut at the 3 Irish Open at Baltray and struggling to find his game.
NBC analyst Johnny Miller suggested in an Open preview that Harrington is trying too hard and should try and relax a little more.
The second golf major of the year starts this Thursday at the Bethpage Black Course in Farmingdale, New York when The U.S. Open gets under way.
At 8:06 a.m. defending British Open champion Harrington, defending U.S. Open champion Tiger Woods and Masters champion Angel Cabrera will tee off to a guaranteed whopper of a gallery.
Woods always attracts a crowd, but the Irish fans that turn up in droves to support Harrington in New York will make for a raucous few days. Throw in the charismatic character that is Masters’ champion Cabrera and it could be the threesome of the first two rounds.
Harrington does have a little form on the course this week to give him a boost. When the U.S. Open was last played at Bethpage in 2002 (when it was won by none other than Tiger), Harrington performed well and finished in a tie for 11th on a course that was far more unforgiving than the 2009 version.
Woods' preparations for the second major of the year couldn't contrast more. He is just coming off a victory at the Memorial two weeks ago and is set up perfectly to challenge for his 15th major.
Harrington is one of the few golfers who has outscored Tiger Woods when paired more than five times together. Maybe the spark that the world's best player ignites in the Irishman can propel him to a good week of golf.