By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
Padraig Harrington makes his first appearance this week at the Reno-Tahoe Open. It’s a rare opportunity for golf fans at Montreux Golf and Country Club to follow a three-time major winner.
As it turns out, Harrington is the third such champion to appear in Reno since the inception of the tournament in 1999.
Hopefully, his fate will be better this week than the previous two.
In 2001, Nick Faldo was in the field, five years removed from the last of his six major titles. He withdrew after shooting a 3-over 75 in the first round.
In 2006, Nick Price was in the field, 12 years removed from the last of his three major titles. He withdrew after shooting 71-71-73 in the first three rounds that left him at 1 under.
Several two-time major winners, such as John Daly, Lee Janzen, Mark O’Meara, Fuzzy Zoeller and Jose Maria Olazabal, have made multiple appearances in Reno. But Harrington, who likes playing the week before a major but did not qualify for the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, joins a select group.
MULTIPLE MAJOR WINNERS AT RENO-TAHOE OPEN
|Player||Major wins||Reno starts||Years (including this year)|
|John Daly||2||6||1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2011, 2012|
|Lee Janzen||2||6||2000, 2001, 2002, 2008, 2011, 2012|
|Mark O’Meara||2||3||2001, 2002, 2005|
|Jose Maria Olazabal||2||2||2004, 2011|
|Fuzzy Zoeller||2||2||1999, 2000|
The pairings have been unveiled for this week’s PGA TOUR Matchups Game on Facebook. You can check out the Matchups for the British Open below, or on the PGA TOUR’s Facebook page.
Participants have until 6 a.m. ET Thursday to make their picks. Log on to the PGA TOUR Facebook page and click the Matchups link to make your picks for this week, or to sign up.
Matchups for the British Open:
|Tiger Woods vs. Bubba Watson||Will these two big hitters bag their drivers for the entire week?|
|Padraig Harrington vs. Rory McIlroy||Two Irishmen -- and two different ways of navigating the links|
|Sergio Garcia vs. Dustin Johnson||Both have come oh-so-close to winning this event|
|Luke Donald vs. Lee Westwood||Will one of these greats finally snag that elusive major?|
|Darren Clarke vs. Louis Oosthuizen||The last two British Open champs clash at Royal Lytham|
By Mike McAllister, PGATOUR.COM
SAN FRANCISCO -- Padraig Harrington looked at his second shot on the 18th fairway and figured he needed a birdie to have any shot of winning the U.S. Open. So he took dead-aim at a tough pin ... and found the bunker on the left side, essentially ending his hopes of winning his fourth major.
"I was trying hard not to hit it right, and I succeeded very well, actually," Harrington said, laughing slightly at his gallows humor.
But he failed to birdie the par-5 16th and his bogey on the final hole left him at 3 over for the tournament.
In looking back at his week, Harrington was in an uphill climb the last three rounds after shooting a 4-over 74 on Thursday that included two four-putts and a three-putt. He knows where this tournament was lost for him.
"There's four shots easily the first day," he said. "I had a bad day on the greens the first day, not a great day on day three.
"I look back, it wasn't my ability to play golf this week that was costing me; it's a couple of decisions here and there. So it's nice to think you have the ability to win it. But maybe you just have to make the right decisions at the right time."
SAN FRANCISCO – Jim Furyk just came up with a miracle par at the 12th hole to retain sole possession of the lead at the U.S. Open.
Furyk hit his tee shot on the par 4 in the left rough and then short-sided himself in the short right greenside bunker. He blasted out to 30 feet but drained the putt for the improbable par that left him at even par.
Furyk is one stroke ahead of his playing partner, Graeme McDowell, who followed suit and made a 25-footer for birdie on the 12th hole, and Webb Simpson. As Furyk was gutting out that par, Simpson actually had a 6-footer for birdie at No. 15 but couldn’t convert.
Padraig Harrington had a chance to post 2 over and join Michael Thompson waiting in the clubhouse. But the three-time major champion buried his second shot in the left greenside bunker and blasted out to the rough on the other side of the green. He nearly holed his chip but it stopped 6 inches short and he finished at 3 over.
Tiger Woods, bidding for his fourth U.S. Open title, has finished off a 73 and ended up 7 over for the tournament. He held a share of the lead at 1 under after 36 holes.
By Helen Ross, PGATOUR.COM
SAN FRANCISCO -- If you're looking for Padraig Harrington on Thursday afternoon, check out the practice green at The Olympic Club.
Two four-putts and a three-putt will certainly send a man searching for answers. Without them, Harrington, a three-time major champion, would be right in the hunt. Instead, he had to settle for a 74 that left him eight strokes off the pace set by Michael Thompson.
"I had two four-putts and a three-putt, two stubbed chips from the edge of the green," Harrington said. "That's a lot of shots. I don't think, I can't remember ever having a four-putt and I had two of them today."
While he was frustrated by his putting -- Harrington used 31 strokes on the green -- he really liked the test presented by The Olympic Club. Harrington, who ranks 127th in strokes-gained putting on TOUR this year, made three birdies, three bogeys and two double bogeys.
"The course is super," the Irishman said. "Brilliant. Actually, not difficult either. It's nicely setup. Very playable. ... It's ideal. It just goes to show what the firm greens scare the life out of professional golfers. So it's excellent."
Figuring out the wind has been one of the biggest challenges for the players in Thursday’s round.
Padraig Harrington said he and one of his playing partners, Rory McIlroy, completely misjudged the wind at the par-3 eighth, as both players found the bunker guarding the front of the green.
“We all got the wind wrong,” said Harrington, who shot a 2-under 68, same as McIlroy. “We thought it was downwind and it was clearly into the wind. Rory was 20 yards short of the pin; I was 15 years short. We were well out of what we were thinking.
“I think everybody today was obviously experiencing that.”
Harrington said the wind that was whistling through the trees was not always an accurate reflection of the winds at ground level, one of the reasons Harrington said he had trouble committing to their wedges.
Chad Campbell, who also shot a 68, noted that the winds were coming from the north. “We’re used to playing the course with the opposite wind,” Campbell said. Which is appropriate, considering the course’s name is TPC Southwind.
By Brian Wacker, PGATOUR.COM
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- As historic as Louis Oosthuizen’s double eagle was during the final round of the Masters, the shot everyone was still talking about Tuesday at the RBC Heritage was Bubba Watson’s escape from the woods on the second hole of sudden death, the par-4 10th at Augusta National.
“Yeah,” Boo Weekley said with emphasis when asked if Watson was in some strange way better off being in the trees than in the fairway. “Where we grew up, at Tanglewood, we had to learn that shot because the trees are real tight. If there’s anybody out there that’s gonna do it, he’s gonna do it every time.”
Weekley and Watson went to the same high school in Milton (Fla.) in the Florida panhandle.
The shot Watson hit Sunday was a wedge off the pine straw, under a tree then over them from 164 yards. It hooked about 40 yards to set up a two-putt par for the win.
It’s the kind of shot that fellow Scottsdale, Ariz., resident Aaron Baddeley, who came out to watch it, has seen dozens of times from Watson.
“When he gets in a spot in the trees it definitely makes him focus,” Baddeley said. “He can hit a 40-yard fade or 60-yard draw because he does it all the time. He can move the ball so far. He can hit a 50-yard fade off the tee because he can hit it 320. If I hit a 50-yard fade, it will go 260. That’s his go-to shot.”
That go-to shot gave Watson his first career major and fourth win in the last two years.
Bill Haas thinks it’s more than Watson’s length that has paid off.
“The rest of his game is a lot better than he got credit for,” Haas said. “I give him the credit now. He’s really good.”
Haas’ younger brother and caddie Jay Jr. said that Watson moves the ball more than any other player in the game.
“He’s entertaining to watch,” Bill added. “Even for us players.”
The tee times for the first round of this week’s RBC Heritage have been released. CLICK HERE for the tee times. Use the space below to comment about the pairings at Harbour Town.
Here’s a look at some of the notable groups in the first two rounds:
Luke Donald/Kyle Stanley/Brandt Snedeker
All three players have won on the PGA TOUR this year, but the real story is the Donald/Snedeker rematch from last year's playoff at Harbour Town. Or it is the Snedeker/Stanley rematch from this year's playoff at Torrey Pines?
Bill Haas/Ernie Els/Padraig Harrington
Haas, the reigning FedExCup champion, is paired with two international superstars in the midst of career comebacks. Harrington has two top-10s in six starts this year, while Els has three top-fives in his last four starts.
Webb Simpson/Zach Johnson/Bud Cauley
This group almost spans three different generations. Cauley, a 22-year-old rookie, was one of the hottest players on TOUR before the Masters. However, rookies almost never do well at Harbour Town. Simpson, 26, has been under the radar after an epochal 2011, and still has three top-10s already in 2012.
John Daly/Rickie Fowler/Ricky Barnes
With Daly's pants and Fowler's hats, there will be lots of colorful clothes in this group. Barnes nearly won here last year before fading into a tie for fourth. Fowler has two starts here, one of them a tie for eighth in his first try in 2010.
Lucas Glover/Matt Kuchar/Geoff Ogilvy
Glover and Kuchar, a pair of Sea Island, Ga. residents, consider Harbour Town a local event. They will be paired with Ogilvy, who added Harbour Town to his schedule for the first time since 2007.
Now, it’s your turn: Which groups are you most interested in following this week?