As an opponent of anchored putting, Padraig Harrington may have to hide his blushes should he go on to win the Travelers Championship on Sunday.
Just six weeks ago, the three-time major champion elected to take up the long stick for the first time, in a desperate attempt to salvage some form from his ailing career.
Harrington’s slide has been emphatic. At the peak of his major winning powers the Irishman was viewed as a legitimate challenger to the dominance of Tiger Woods, but in the intervening years his renowned short game has stuttered to a whimper.
He was never the straightest, but to quote Sky Sports on-course commentator Wayne Reilly, “he’d up and down you to death.”
His deftness with the wedge has never deserted him, but the flat stick, and a few unwanted electrical impulses in the arms, have caused serious heartache. In adopting the new method, his desperation is obvious when you consider that less than a year ago he was calling for the anchoring ban to be introduced as soon as possible.
Since adopting the “if you can’t beat them, join them” stance, Harrington’s performances have improved despite some seriously wayward driving. He’s just two shots off Bubba Watson’s lead at the half-way point in The Travelers Championship despite, yet again, poor ball striking. A pair of 66’s is a stunning return for a player dissatisfied with his long game.
You can always expect bogeys with Harrington, but finally – thanks to his new found best friend – the birdies to counteract the disasters have returned. If he can keep the big numbers off his card, he’ll be a serious contender on Sunday. We may even catch a glimpse of those unforgettable crazy eyes of Oak Hill, scene of his last major victory – the 2008 U.S. PGA Championship.