By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
Rickie Fowler, Lee Westwood, Ian Poulter, Jason Dufner, Freddie Jacobson and Padraig Harrington have all committed to the Travelers Championship, the tournament announced on Tuesday.
"Along with being great golfers, these six individuals are all well known and our fans will be thrilled to see them compete in person," tournament director Nathan Grube said. "Our competitive field just got a lot stronger with these additions."
All six have played in the event before, which will take place at TPC River Highlands June 20-23, the week after the U.S. Open at nearby Merion Golf Club in suburban Philadelphia.
Jacobson won the Travelers in 2011, while Harrington tied for fifth in 2011 and was 11th last year.
Others already committed include Bubba Watson, Hunter Mahan, Keegan Bradley, Justin Rose, Zach Johnson, and defending champion Marc Leishman.
Padraig Harrington sinks an 18-foot eagle putt on the par-5 second hole during the first round of THE PLAYERS Championship.
Click here to watch Phil Mickelson roll in a birdie putt on the same hole.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Although he said he thinks the anchored putter is "bad for the game of golf," Padraig Harrington used one in the first round of the Wells Fargo Championship on Thursday.
Harrington shot an 80 -- his highest score on the PGA TOUR since 2007 -- that included nine bogeys and a lone birdie at the par-5 15th hole. But those 32 putts he took with the belly putter weren't entirely to blame; Harrington only hit eight fairways and just six greens in regulation.
The three-time major champion told ESPN that he picked up a long putter when he was "bored" last week.
"I was like, 'Oh, I wonder what that looks like,' and I was surprised to see everything was better," Harrington said. "In terms of the mechanics, it was a far better stroke."
Harrington acknowledged he was still getting used to the belly putter. He said it was "great" when he used the long version on Wednesday but added "it wasn't very good today," referrring to the first round. He still plans to use it on Friday, though.
"I just wasn't quite as comfortable, which I kind of knew was coming," Harrington said. "The grip of my normal putter is open and the grip of this is square, so I'm not quite used to it yet. There was a bit of resetting when I was over the ball, which, obviously, I prefer not to have. But that's just familiarity, and it will be interesting to give it another go tomorrow."
Harrington supports the proposed ban on anchored strokes that the USGA and R&A have targeted for 2016. But in the interim, since the belly putter and anchoring is still within the rules, the inveterate tinkerer is going to see if using it will help him break a five-year victory drought.
"I think it's bad for the game of golf," Harrington said. "[But] I'm going to use everything, if something's going to help me for the next three and a half years, I'm going to use it."
By Tim Price, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
SAN ANTONIO -- He’s got a share of the early lead at the Valero Texas Open, but Padraig Harrington didn’t feel like he was on top Thursday after a 4-under 68 on the AT&T Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio.
“I’m not walking away from this round thinking ‘Wow, I hit a number of pure golf shots,’ or anything like that,” Harrington said. “It was more mental fortitude than ball striking.”
That certainly was the case when looking at Harrington’s play, which has him tied with Billy Horschel and one ahead of Jason Gore and Brian Davis.
He missed seven greens (Gore hit 14), but he got up-and-down from the bunker three times, which included a blast from the side of the par-5 14th that rolled to within a foot.
Harrington also had just 25 putts (same as Horschel), which could look really appealing if not for a three-putt from 34 feet on the 18th to end his round.
“A stinker of a putt,” Harrington said of the 4-footer coming back. “That was a pity. Takes the shine off the day. It wasn’t a difficult putt. As I got over it I stood off it once because the wind was gusting from my left, which it shouldn’t have been.”
The wind, which blowing at 20 mph at some points, played so much havoc with full shots but had its biggest effect on Harrington on his final putts of the day. Everything else he handled.
“Most of the time you’re hitting knock-down shots and three-quarter swings,” Harrington said.
The 68 is his best score of the year since an opening-round 64 in a ninth-place finish at the Waste Management Phoenix Open (he also shot 67 while finishing fourth at the Volvo Golf Championship in South Africa).
His biggest adjustment was getting used to the weather, which was about 50 degrees but felt colder with the north winds.
“I’m not under pressure to go out there and shoot 8 under,” he said. “This morning, early on, it was a battle of survival. Last week back in Ireland it was snowing and I didn’t feel this cold.
“There was a feeling of ‘Let’s just hang in there and stay in the tournament.’ Sometimes that lets you play a little bit more within yourself.”
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
It didn't take Padraig Harrington long to figure out he was better off playing the week before a big tournament rather than beating balls on the range.
"I'd say when I was 14," Harrington said. "Bear in mind when I played a tournament as a 14‑year‑old, it was a major every time.
"The most important thing to do before you went out and played was go and try to get competitive practice. I played every time there was a big tournament."
Which explains, in part, why Harrington is in the field this week at the Valero Texas Open.
"You do need to have a card in your hand and you need to be tested one ball at a time," he said. "That isn't practice."
Harrington arrives at TPC San Antonio not exactly in top form. He has just one top 10 and two missed cuts in five starts on the PGA TOUR this season.
Five years ago, he won three majors in 13 months. But he's won just once since, and that came at as Asian Tour event in 2010.
As for the Masters, Harrington has four top 10s there, including a pair of fifth-place finishes in 2002 and 2008. And it's not as if he needs more practice rounds at Augusta National.
For one, this year will mark his 14th trip down Magnolia Lane.
"We all know that at Augusta, because everybody with experience knows now that even the test that they see Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, is not what's presented on a Thursday," Harrington said. "So at this stage with experience, I don't even take my Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday practice as serious as I certainly would when I first am starting to play."
For another, Harrington's ever busy mind and tinkering would take over.
"I just know from experience that if I spend the week off beforehand, I'm going to start working on things," he said. "Mentally your routine isn't quite sharp or there is some little element that you didn't realize. There is only one way to know where your game is at and that's to hit a shot under pressure."
Of course Harrington's routine isn't for everybody.
"I do believe there are guys who are good at managing that, not playing tournaments and figuring out how to create competitive practice," he said. "You've got to say Tiger has done a great job of it over the years, but it's not for me. I need competitive practice."
MARANA, Ariz. -- Through 11 holes, Graeme McDowell was playing steady while Padraig Harrington was missing some short putts. Consequently, the fifth-seeded McDowell was 3 up.
But McDowell then lost the next three holes, two with bogeys, to square the match. The battled between the Northern Irishman and the Irishman remained tight for the rest of the way until Harrington found trouble late to lose two of the final three holes.
McDowell said a key hole was the 15th when he followed Harrington's birdie with one of his own to keep the match squared.
"That kind of got me buzzing," McDowell said, "and I made some nice swings coming in."
McDowell advances to play Alexander Noren in the second round of the Jones bracket.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Yes, that was Padraig Harrington kicking footballs, not futbols, into the grandstands at the 16th hole at TPC Scottsdale on Saturday. He'll probably do it again during the final round, too.
The Irishman came to play in the Waste Management Phoenix Open for the first time this week determined to embrace the atmosphere, and as it turns out, Harrington has been energized by it as well.
The three-time major champion fired a 63 on Saturday that matched his second-lowest score on the PGA TOUR and landed Harrington in Sunday's final pairing with Phil Mickelson and Brandt Snedeker. Granted, he's eight strokes behind Mickelson, tied with Ryan Moore, but Harrington is very pleased with the state of his game.
And with good reason. Harrington started Saturday with three straight birdies, then added another at the fifth hole and eventually made the turn in 30. He got to 14 under with a birdie at the 11th hole, then bounced back from his lone bogey with a birdie at the par-5 13th when he two-putted from 15 feet. He flushed it at the next par 5 and capped his scoring with a 9-footer for eagle.
Harrington said the quick start set the stage for the round.
"Then your confidence is open," he explained. "I kept creating chances from then on in. If I look back at the round, you know, it's possible I could say I had a lot of chances that I didn't take, but ultimately, you know, my game is in good shape so it's easier to be patient when your game is in good shape.
"You don't feel like this is your only opportunity, let's say."
Harrington said the idea to kick the footballs into the crowd at the 16th hole came from his sponsor, Wilson, who makes the official football of the NFL and Sunday's Super Bowl. He used his caddy for a placeholder for the first, then punted another six or seven. He said he was more nervous doing that than hitting that 8-iron to 16 feet.
"I'm a professional golfer," Harrington said. "I have hit 8-irons before in my life under pressure. I have a routine, and I know what I'm doing. When it comes to kicking especially an American football, I have never done it before.
"I did not want to screw up the first one along the ground, for sure. I did want to get it airborne a little bit of distance. I found when I punted it, the first three or four, I hooked them quite a bit, and then the last one, I actually made sweet contact and kicked it over the stand, actually cleared the whole thing."
Playing the final four holes was a kick for Harrington, as well. He liked seeing Irish flags in the gallery and he loved that the fans at the 16th amused themselves by chanting the quintessential soccer refrain "Ole, ole, ole."
"Having gone to football matches in my day and sang it myself, when it's sung to you, it's a special," he said.
Harrington, who is seeking his first TOUR win since he won his second and third majors in 2008, likened the emotions he felt playing the closing stretch at TPC Scottsdale to the way he felt making his professional debut.
"You know what you're doing, but it's hard to keep your mind from racing away from you," he explained. "... The adrenaline is pumping over those last three, four holes. Very exciting indeed."
Take the 17th hole, a 337-yard par 4. Harrington said he hit his driver as easy as he could there because he was so pumped up after walking out of the stadium at No. 16.
"It is exciting," Harrington said. "You have to embrace that. That's what we're here for. We play a lot of events during the year and good events, but this is unique here. ... It's unique in a great way. I really do like the idea. You know, you've got to enjoy it. You've got to love it and, as I said, embrace it.
"Yeah, your emotions run away a bit. ... You're feeling the exact same emotions as you would be if you're trying to win the tournament and you're only out there. It's exciting. You know, you'd love golf to be like that certainly a lot of weeks."