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The Open: Harrington’s steps in wrong direction

Padraig Harrington took two giant leaps across the Swilken Burn yesterday but made too many backward steps as a nightmarish first-round 73 effectively scuppered his chances of winning a third Claret Jug on Sunday.

TV producers were so impressed with Harrington's athletic prowess on the opening hole as he leapt across the 6ft ditch to examine the line of his chip and then long-jumped back again, they showed it over and over, even in super-slow motion.

Harrington might have managed to keep his feet dry but, sadly, his ball already was in the water after he'd hit his pitch into the first green so horribly fat, it bounced once before diving into the Burn.

After his penalty drop, Harrington then sent a scrubby chip 12ft past the pin and needed two putts to get down for a double-bogey six on, arguably, the easiest hole on The Old Course.

Though he'd sink a 12ft birdie at the second hole, Harrington's confidence was badly dented again at the third, where his tee shot landed in a divot and he missed the green with his wedge, taking three putts to get down from the right.

A week which had promised so much for the Irishman had been completely knocked out of kilter after three holes.

“I did all the superfluous things very well and I did the important things badly,” said Harrington, who berated his wedge play and his putting.

Lying well outside the top 100 at the close of play, he certainly needs to rediscover his scoring touch fast to make this evening's halfway cut, never mind rekindle his victory prospects.

“Obviously starting the way I did didn't help. After that there was no momentum,” he said.

“I actually don't need to play any differently than today and it's not like there's anything I need to do between now and tomorrow. I'll just go and hit a few putts and things like that.”

Harrington saluted Rory McIlroy for “a fantastic score” and insisted “if he continues like that, he'll win by 10 shots” but he stoutly refused to write off his own prospects of winning a fourth Major title on Sunday.

“I don't feel I'm out of it right now but, as things transpire towards the end of the week, that could become very much the case,” he said.

“I was more than happy with how I played. I just didn't put the scoring together, but that's a strong point of my game so I'm not going to get frustrated with it.

“I swung the club well; hit the ball well but it just wasn't my day. I prepared properly and hit it all right this week but it just wasn't my week,” he said, instantly correcting himself. “It just wasn't my day. Let's hope it's still going to be my week.”

Lucky Harrington didn't slip up like that jumping the Swilken Burn.

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