With very little to show from his four 2015 outings to date, Padraig Harrington has taken everyone by surprise by claiming the Honda Classic halfway lead
Step back six or seven years and Padraig Harrington was winning Majors seemingly at will and reigning high in golf’s world pecking order. But the 2008 USPGA Championship remains the 43-year-old Irishman’s last victory on either of the world’s two main tours, with his last non-Major victories coming in the 2007 Irish Open in Europe and the 2005 Barclays Classic in America.
Last year, Harrington recorded a solitary top 10 in Europe in the season-opening limited field Volvo Champions where he finished 5th, while his best finish in America was 22nd in the Byron Nelson Championship in May. Harrington finished 97th on the Race to Dubai – his lowest ranking in 20 years on tour. He also finished a lowly 188th in the FedEx standings, with his last top 10 on the PGA Tour coming in the FedEx St Jude Classic in June 2013.
He has made four PGA Tour appearances to date in 2015, missing the cut three times and finishing 56th at Riviera. But after two rounds at the Honda Classic, Harrington is leading a PGA Tour event for the first time in many moons after excellent rounds of 67 and 66 in testing conditions, on a leaderboard that looks very pleasing to a European eye with Ian Poulter, Luke Donald, Russell Knox, a resurgent Paul Casey and Jamie Donaldson all in the top 10 after two rounds.
So was there anything at all in the stars to suggest the seemingly unlikely re-emergence of a man who was once one of golf’s most consistent and determined of campaigners? Well, yes, perhaps there was, for three weeks before Christmas, Harrington claimed his first victory in four years when he won the Indonesian Open on the Asian Tour by two shots. His previous victory had also come on the Asian Tour in the 2010 Johor Open.
That win helped get him back into the world’s top 300, and afterwards Harrington felt it augured well for the 2015 season: “This win brings a lot of confidence to my game and hopefully it will show up next year.” It appears that five events into his 2015 campaign, it has.
After round one, Harrington reflected on the conditions: “As tough as the day was, I kept telling myself, it suits me more than most guys. There was an element of, ‘don’t get down on yourself, this suits you better than possibly everybody else, so stick with it.’ But I did find it difficult.”
Is some of that dogged determination for which Harrington was renowned finally back? If so, you can bet that Padraig will be one of few in the field hoping for more bad weather over the weekend.