WOBURN, England (Reuters) - Padraig Harrington’s euphoric mood following Ireland’s shock Euro 2016 qualifying win over world soccer champions Germany the night before evaporated all too quickly at the British Masters on Friday.
The 44-year-old Dubliner started his second round at Woburn on the 10th hole and was soon cursing his luck, having three-putted the 11th, 12th and 13th for a hat-trick of bogeys.
The tall pine trees lining the par-71 layout situated 50 miles north of London tend to blot out some of the autumnal sunshine, throwing shadows across the greens that make it difficult for the players to read the subtle breaks.
“I putted well yesterday but today I had three three-putts early on that put me on the back foot for the rest of the round,” Harrington told Reuters in an interview after carding a one-over-par 72 for a four-under total of 138.
“It was very, very hard to read the greens today. My three three-putts were definitely down to the shadows.
“I hit three good first putts, all from 35 feet or so, but I just misjudged them in the shadows,” said Harrington.
“It does make a big difference, I’ve got to say, seeing the slopes and that. It’s a lot more easy to see the lines when there aren’t any shadows around.”
Harrington, however, is still within touching distance of the early pacesetters, Dane Soren Kjeldsen and Matthew Fitzpatrick of England.
“If the lead stays at nine-under-par today I’m not out of it,” said the triple major winner.
“I did well after my three-putts but it just makes you a little bit tentative. You want to free up to play your best golf and when you’ve dropped a few shots and good things aren’t happening, you start to get a bit too careful.
“When you hole a few putts, make a few birdies, you’re happy about things and that’s always a good sign.”
The tall pines, the sharply sloping fairways and the contoured putting surfaces prompt first-time visitors to compare Woburn’s appearance with the beautifully manicured lawns of Augusta National, the iconic home of the U.S. Masters.
The prevailing shadows apart, Harrington agrees that the course is in excellent shape.
“The greens were great this morning,” said the winner of the 2007 and 2008 British Opens and the 2008 U.S. PGA Championship.
“With them being soft they do take a lot of wear and tear for the afternoon but they are lovely to putt on. They are quality surfaces and all told it’s a very good golf course.”
Outside of the British Open and the BMW PGA Championship, fans have had little top-notch golf to watch in England in recent years and Harrington is happy to see the British Masters back on the European Tour schedule for the first time since 2008.
“It’s important to have big events in the UK,” he said.
“We had a lot of big events in Ireland when we hosted the Ryder Cup in 2006. We had the European Open, the Irish Open and we’re seeing lots of amateurs coming through now.
“You need to have these kind of events and this is a good location too with easy access.”
Harrington ended a seven-year title drought on the two main tours when he won the Honda Classic in Florida in March.
His form since has been mediocre but the Irishman is thinking positively about his 2015 campaign.
“It goes down as a winning season and that’s the way I’m going to think about it,” said Harrington.
The 1-0 win by Ireland’s footballers in Dublin on Thursday night was also at the forefront of his mind.
“I watched it,” said Harrington. “One of the caddies here is staying in a bed and breakfast place, it had a big barn with a huge big screen.
“A bunch of us went over there. It was fantastic to watch, a great result.”
Editing by Pritha Sarkar