PÁDRAIG Harrington described how “absolutely gutted” he was to be missing this week’s BMW PGA Championship through injury last night but still on course to take his place in next month’s US Open.
Harrington said last week he was withdrawing from the European Tour’s flagship event at Wentworth Golf Club, starting tomorrow, due to a knee injury he first suffered at the Wells Fargo Championship on the US PGA Tour three weeks ago.
The three-time major winner was at Wentworth last night to attend the European Tour’s annual players’ awards, at which 2010 major winners and Ryder Cup heroes Graeme McDowell and Martin Kaymer were vying for the players’ player award.
“You know, my knee was feeling really good at the weekend. So good I was thinking ‘God, I might have pulled out a bit early’,” he said.
“But it’s gone from being an acute pain in the knee to a persistent, niggling pain below the knee. So it does seem like those physios know a thing or two. So rest is still the answer.”
Harrington will remove the hardship of having to watch the golf this weekend by flying to Monte Carlo tomorrow with wife Caroline to watch the Monaco Grand Prix. “I’ve never been to a Grand Prix but Eddie (Jordan) is going to look after me,” he said.
Harrington, though, plans to be back playing next week with nine holes a day on Wednesday and Thursday at Royal St George’s, the links venue for this July’s Open before heading to the States to prepare for the US Open at Congressional Country Club by playing the lead-up event on the PGA Tour, the FedEx St Jude Classic in Memphis, starting June 9.
“I play Memphis every year but of all the years to play there it’s going to be substantially different to Congressional, in terms of set-up and grass. But it’s a tough test and I like to be competitive the week before.”
Earlier in the day at Wentworth, Harrington had been credited by US PGA champion Kaymer as having started the recent wave of European success in world golf.
“I think the European Tour and George O’Grady can be really proud of their work the last few years. I think why the Europeans became so successful, I believe it started with Harrington, when he started winning majors.
“I think that gave myself and a lot of Europeans the belief that even, you know, everybody was thinking, the Americans, only they can win the majors, Tiger, Phil and those guys.
“But you know, Pádraig, when he won three majors, and then Graeme McDowell won the US Open, I think everything started with Pádraig.”
Kaymer received one of the most coveted awards in European golf last night — Players’ Player of the Year — ahead of stars including US Open winner Graeme McDowell.
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