Pacific Palisades, CA ….
Triple Major winning Padraig Harrington revealed he will now undergo surgery on a four-month nagging shoulder injury despite brilliantly birding his closing three holes in a rousing four-under par 67 on day one of the Genesis Open in California.
Harrington is suffering from a pinched nerve in his right shoulder so much so he ruled out any practice rounds this week and also withdraw for a second time in three week’s from the Wednesday Pro-Am.
But he defied the sceptics with five birdies in ideal scoring conditions on the famed Riviera course in suburban Los Angeles.
It handed the affable Irishman a then clubhouse tie for second place and just a shot behind American Dustin Johnson, who has the chance this week of going to World No. 1.
Some time later Sam Saunders, and the grandson to the late Arnold Palmer, made the most of his invitation into the event for a first time, to then move into the lead by two shots over Johnson with a seven under par 64.
Harrington was naturally delighted with effort particularly in landing a 7-iron to seven feet at the par three 16th for birdie and holing a 20-foot birdie from the fringe at the par five 17th and then draining a superb 15-footer for a ‘3’ at the last.
“It was a nice putting round and I’m really pleased given I have been injured and didn’t play any practice rounds this week,” he said.
“So, I didn’t quite know what to expect but I came out and hit it pretty straight all day and holed a good few putts.”
Harrington has been carrying the shoulder injury since last October’s Rio Olympic Games when he slept on a ‘bad pillow’ but in returning to competition a month ago the injury has seen him lose about 25% off the tee while in recent events he’s been experiencing a tingling feeling in his right hand.
But after seeing a leading L A specialist on Monday, the Dubliner has been advised the only cure is surgery.
“I’ve had four different opinions so far about my shoulder and with the specialist I saw on Monday saying I do need surgery and with another saying I need an injection while the Tour’s physio staff have also been looking after me”, he said.
“The specialist in L A sent me to another doctor who injected cortisone in the shoulder.
“The fact that I am not in any pain doesn’t help and it’s an injury I’ve never had before while the tingling I am getting has only come on since I returned to competition.
“So, it looks as though I’m going to need an operation but the decision is when. I am playing next week and then I have a window where I have a few week’s off to have the operation.
“The good thing is that I am told the operation is pretty straight forward where they shave down part of my shoulder.
“So I will give it serious thought after next week’s event”.
There was plenty of joy for Harrington despite not contesting Wednesday’s Pro-Am in meeting later that night Hollywood heartthrob, Matt Damon at the premier in nearby downtown L A of his new movie “The Great Wall”.
“I thought the movie was great and I also got to chat with Matt after the movie, and as you do at a premier,” said Harrington,
“He was great as he we talked about China where he spent a good few weeks making the movie and, of course, he loves his golf and lives not far here from Riviera.”