Padraig Harrington and Séamus Power are looking forward to the JP McManus Pro-Am and The Open now after finishing the Horizon Irish Open on a high.
Harrington lit up the morning for the Irish fans, opening with five straight birdies before picking up a sixth of the day at the eighth to turn in 30 to get to within four shot of the lead.
The Dubliner (50) admitted later he was thinking of a 59 but ran up a double-bogey seven at the 10th where he had tree trouble with his third and went on to finish bogey-birdie-par for a 69 that left him tied for 30th in the clubhouse with Power, who shot 68, on seven-under.
“I was thinking how hard it is to shoot 59,” Harrington said of his thoughts through the turn.
“I was six under after eight and I had to do that at least for the next eight. That was going through my head. Winning? No. If I can get up there, it means the pins are decent and guys in the afternoon can shoot good scores. It was more about shooting 59.” Assessing his overall performance, Harrington was most pleased with his putting after struggling at times during last week’s US Senior Open win and three-putting the 18th from 60 feet.
“I was much better on greens this week than last week,” he said. “The ball is rolling well, no tension. Even the putt on last, I’d no tension in the stroke, started the ball where I wanted to start it. I see some very positive things in putting. Maybe my future career is having some good weeks putting and some bad weeks.
Asked if he was looking forward to The Open, he joked: “I’m looking forward to two late draws in the random draw for the JP McManus Pro-Am! Maybe that’s what perked me up.”
Power saw his title chances evaporate with a third round 77 but he was delight to make an eagle and 17 birdies over the four rounds and his closing 68 gave him a boost.
“Overall very positive, one of the more enjoyable tournaments I've played,” he said. “It was nice to get a bit of momentum back today. Overall very positive.” He was also heading for Adare Manor yesterday before getting in some links practice for The Open.
“So I'm going to play Royal County Down next Sunday, my first time ever, and then take the ferry over,” he said. “I'm going to go play links probably Thursday and Saturday just to get a bit used to it. I haven't played a lot of links courses over the last decade. “St Andrews is so unique, it's still different but just get a feel for hitting some of those shots again. Going to get over there Sunday night, playing the first Open at St Andrews, it's going to be an amazing week.” Playing alongside Power, Royal Dublin’s Niall Kearney signed off with a 70 to lie 54th in the clubhouse on four-under but he was disappointed not to go lower after being five-under after eight holes on day one and three-under after five holes on Saturday and Sunday only to close with rounds of 72 and 70.
“It’s been a positive week again, another cut made,” Kearney said. “But it was a slightly disappointing weekend. Three-under through five yesterday and today and I just didn’t drive it on. I played really well but just didn’t score on the back nine.” Playing with tenuous status, Kearney’s biggest problem is getting enough starts to win his card.
“I just have to keep driving on,” he said. “Once I get the starts, let’s see if I can move up those Race to Dubai rankings.”