Pádraig Harrington is ready to play golf’s elder statesman role with off-form Shane Lowry when the Irish pair reunite after the PGA Championship for a practice round at the Travelers Championship in Connecticut.
Their contrasting weeks at Baltusrol meant Lowry will arrive at TPC River Highlands under a cloud while Harrington could float there from New Jersey after his best showing in a major championship for four years.
Both men know they have work to do, though. Despite Harrington’s seven-under-par weekend with rounds of 65-68 in the final major of the year, his tie for 13th place means he is still on the outside looking in for a top 125 place in the FedEx Cup standings that will provide a tee time for the first play-off event at the Barclays in New York on August 25.
Lowry has endured three missed cuts in a row in the wake of his US Open near-miss at Oakmont in June. He finished tied for 36th in his WGC-Bridgestone Invitational title defence in his next start, but went home early from the Scottish Open and Open Championship, with last Friday’s missed cut at Baltusrol leaving the 29-year-old down in the dumps, a mood compounded by a fall of three positions to 31, in the world rankings issued yesterday, At 44 and a three-time major champion, Harrington, 129th in the FedEx rankings and 124 in the world, has been around long enough to understand what his friend is going through.
“Look, every pro here is trying to live with that. It comes and goes. It’s just the nature of the game. I really don’t know a pro who isn’t,” he said. “I always say, ‘where do you set your sights? If you’re under-achieving you’re doing okay’.
“To be able to come on tour and have these incredible, crazy goals you’re always trying to reach for, that keeps you pushing, whereas when you start playing well and all of a sudden, you’re trying to live up to that, it does crazy things to your head.
“I’m due to have a practice round with Shane on Tuesday and I’ll be having a chat with him. Maybe he wants it, maybe he doesn’t, but I’ll certainly be having a chat.
“I don’t mind. I’ve got to the stage in I don’t mind saying things and telling people things. I would have been much more defensive when I was a young guy and would have thought if I had the secret, I would have tried to keep it, but it doesn’t bother me now. I’m sure if Shane wants to listen, then we’ll have a chat.
“I’d be the same with any of the European guys, with anybody, the good US guys or whoever.”
Despite his status as a multiple major champion Harrington has been intrigued by how he is perceived by younger pros on the PGA Tour but believes it has also helped him to better appreciate his achievements.
“Probably one of things I’ve noticed in the last few years when I haven’t been playing so well is the general respect you get from the younger players. It’s quite baffling. I go out there and I’m playing with two of the new guys on tour and I’m battling away to shoot 72, or 73, and I’m really grinding. It’s a tough day and I come in and I’m sitting there and I might be having lunch with the guys, and then all of a sudden, the conversation starts maybe about the majors or whatever.
“Suddenly you realise they weren’t looking at me out there going ‘gee whizz, he’s having a tough day, he’s struggling’. While I was out there grinding, they’re going, ‘wow, this guy has won three majors, isn’t he fabulous?’
Just as you’re talking about expectations, I forget. I used to look at other major winners over the years and think ‘gosh, that guy’s grinding away so hard, would he not just stand there and go ‘I’ve done it, I’ve won X amount’.
“And I’ve won three majors which is far more than I would ever have dreamt of. I feel like I can go on and do more which is a great thing,”
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