Pádraig Harrington facing surgery on troublesome shoulder

Pádraig Harrington admits he may need to undergo surgery on a troublesome shoulder injury to ensure he gets back to fitness in time for the Irish Open and the Open at Royal Birkdale.

The three-time major winner is taking part in this week’s Honda Classic at Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. The Dubliner has been troubled with a nerve issue in his shoulder which looks likely to require surgery at some stage.

The surgery would require a three-month recovery, and Harrington is eager to take part in the Irish Open at Portstewart in July and the Open at Birkdale - scene of his 2008 triumph.

“I kind of have to make a decision in the next couple of weeks,” Harrington said, “to give myself time to get ready for The Open, which is obviously the biggest thing on my schedule this year.”

Harrington won the Honda Classic in 2005 and 2015 and is part of a strong European contingent at PGA National in Palm Beach Gardens which includes Graeme McDowell, Seamus Power, Russell Knox, Paul Casey, Sergio Garcia, Matt Fitzpatrick, and Danny Willett.

Ryder Cup star Thomas Pieters is also there, but the Belgian has vowed to remain loyal to the European Tour, even if he continues to taste success on the other side of the Atlantic.

Pieters enjoyed the most successful debut by a European rookie in last year’s loss at Hazeltine, winning four of his five matches in the 17-11 defeat. That performance brought the 25-year-old Belgian to the attention of the wider golfing public in the United States, where he won an NCAA individual title while attending the University of Illinois. And by finishing joint second in the Genesis Open thanks to a closing 63 at Riviera, Pieters could secure special temporary membership of the PGA Tour with his performance in this week’s Honda Classic.

However, world number 33 Pieters has no intentions of abandoning the European Tour and has already told Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn he plans to be part of the team at Le Golf National in 2018.

“I’m really close to my family, I love living at home and I’m a new uncle now, which is really exciting,” Pieters, whose sister gave birth to a son three months ago, told a pre-tournament press conference.

“Even when I go away for three weeks, I do miss my family.

“That’s why I’m going to keep playing in Europe and for the Ryder Cup, as well. I told Thomas Bjorn that I’m not going to leave his tour and I’m dedicated to playing in Europe and being in that Ryder Cup team.”

Meanwhile South Africa’s Jaco Van Zyl feels he is finally ready to win on the European Tour ahead of this week’s Joburg Open.

Van Zyl has won 14 times on the Sunshine Tour but has suffered a number of frustrating near misses on the European Tour, most recently three-putting the first play-off hole in the Qatar Masters three weeks ago.

The world number 92 has finished runner-up a total of five times, including at this week’s venue of Royal Johannesburg and Kensington, where he also finished third in 2012.

“It really feels like I have broken through that extra barrier,” said Van Zyl, who celebrates his 38th birthday today.

“I’m feeling a lot more comfortable in the position and I feel like I can be in charge when I am in that position instead of backing off a little bit.

“So I think it’s really close and I know I have been saying it for a little while, but hopefully this year is going to be the breakthrough.”



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