By Ronan MacNamara
Padraig Harrington. Photo by Golffile
It’s all been happening in the world of golf over the past couple of months or so. Jordan Spieth capped off his comeback year with a win at the Valero Texas Open. Lydia Ko at the tender age of 24 rose from the doldrums at the LOTTE Championship, Hideki Matsuyama became Japan’s maiden major winner at the Masters, Phil showed that 50 is the new 40 at the PGA and Patrick Cantlay claimed his second Memorial crown last week, or did he?
Many people’s thoughts will be with Jon Rahm’s and his cruel twist of fate off the 18th green on Saturday night and I suspect they will remain that way until just 48 hours before the US Open next week when his period of quarantine is due to end.
Meanwhile, the Palmetto Championship will fill the slot just a week before a major tournament and unsurprisingly, a relatively low-key field is pencilled in to compete this week, which could see a number of withdrawals at the 11th hour due to the delay in completing some US Open qualifying events. Dustin Johnson and Brooks Koepka headline the field which includes an English quartet of Hatton, Fleetwood, Fitzpatrick and Poulter while Sungjae Im is also the other standout name.
Congaree Golf Club looks a treat, a new course which will fill the void of the cancelled Canadian Open and looks set to test the players in ways no other regular PGA Tour event does. This course promises to be firm and fast with long wispy fescue rough and shaved run off areas a key feature of this venue. This Tom Fazio design will be good preparation for the US Open at Torrey Pines next week for those who are playing both events. Like the Byron Nelson a few weeks ago, the fairways are wide but the players won’t be throwing darts into the greens, instead strategically placed approach shots will be required to find the correct sections on the greens.
Pádraig Harrington and Seamus Power will tee it up this week while Rory McIlroy and Shane Lowry put the feet up ahead of the US Open next week.
Seamus Power. Photo by Golffile
Seamus Power has been in good form this year, with three top-25 finishes in his last six starts on both the PGA Tour and Korn Ferry Tour – including a T9 at the AT&T Byron Nelson. Perhaps it is a little surprising the Waterford native has not competed on the Korn Ferry Tour since April 18th where he came 9th.
The 2016 Olympian will benefit from the space granted to the players off the tee this week, he got away with a poor driving performance at the Byron Nelson where a marked improvement in his approach play coupled with his wizardry around the greens saw him on the fringes of contention.
Power also boasts a formidable record in South Carolina and on Tom Fazio designed courses. Power has also performed well in secondary PGA Tour events that share the week with a WGC and weakened fields the week before a major. Two top-10 finishes at the Corales Puntacana (T5, T7) and a 6th place finish at Harbour Town in the RBC Heritage, the PGA Tour’s regular event in South Carolina bodes well for another good week in the state.
Power shouldn’t be too disheartened by missing out at US Open qualifying, he suffered the same fate in 2018 in a playoff and bounced back to finish T-12th at the St Jude Classic.
Pádraig Harrington has endured a disappointing week after the highs of his top 5 finish at the PGA Championship. The three-time major champion missed the cut at the Memorial tournament before being held up at the weather delayed US Open qualifying until Tuesday.
Europe’s Ryder Cup captain missed out on a spot at Torrey Pines by a single shot, with four pars on the four par 5s costing him a place in the top-16. Harrington was also denied in a playoff to be a second alternate in the field. As it stands, he is still pencilled in to start this week despite the quick turnaround.
Harrington will now be relying on an exemption from the USGA to tee it up at Torrey Pines.