BELEK, Turkey – If you want to see Padraig Harrington play golf, you’d better not wait too long to get a ticket. His time playing on a regular basis in the U.S. may be coming to an end.
After shooting a 6-under 65 on Thursday in the first round of the Turkish Airlines Open, where he trails fellow Irishman Paul Dunne by one stroke (scores), Harrington discussed the possibility of limiting his time on the PGA Tour.
Harrington, 47, a three-time major champion from Dublin, joined the PGA Tour in 2005 and has played 15 or more events annually except for 2017.
In his pre-tournament news conference at Regnum Carya Resort and Spa on the Mediterranean Coast, Harrington discussed the difference in playing on the PGA Tour compared with his home tour in Europe.
“It's amazing. There's so many different distinctions between the two styles of play, different tours,” Harrington said. “You could have a very good player on one tour [who] just wouldn't be suited to the other. But that's the nature of the game. We're always going to try and compare, but it's not perfect. I suppose you're not comparing perfectly, are you?”
Harrington has won six times on the PGA Tour, including consecutive British Opens, in 2007 and 2008. However, he owns only two top-10s in 80 starts spanning the past five seasons.
“I love playing in the States; I really enjoy it,” he said. “You know, not being in the world events, not being in the top 50 [of the Official World Golf Ranking] puts you under so much stress trying to play both tours.”
Harrington thinks that the courses on the European Tour suit him better, notably with marginally slower green speeds.
“I've got a good-enough short game that just opens up so much opportunity,” Harrington said of his chances in Europe. “And when you're just slightly off pace in the States, it does feel so much like a sprint. Every day, you're trying to win, and you're just putting yourself under so much. I think, yeah, having that little bit more freedom in Europe.”
Having missed nine cuts in 16 starts last season in the U.S., Harrington had a lot of unproductive down time.
In Europe, Harrington enjoys what he calls the craic – simply put, the camaraderie of the European Tour.
“You can miss a cut in the States Friday morning, and you play your next round of golf Thursday afternoon,” Harrington said. “That's six full days, OK. And this is why a lot of Europeans have struggled in the States. I missed the cut this year [at the BMW PGA] in Wentworth; I was home for tea. It was like somebody gave me a bonus for missing the cut. It was like somebody says, Hey, look at you; you get home and you're sitting there having your tea that evening at home.”
Of course, if Harrington had been playing well, he could have dealt with the odd missed cut. When the cuts became more frequent, the enjoyment of playing golf in the U.S. waned.
“If I was playing great golf, I've got to say, wouldn't even question that,” Harrington said. “Because when you're playing well, you're busy all the way to Sunday. You're having a rest Monday and you're resting into next week, and then you're building up. Great. And when you miss a cut, all of a sudden, you just don't know what to do with yourself.”
Alex Miceli is the founder and publisher of Morning Read. Email: email@example.com; Twitter: @AlexMiceli