Padraig Harrington nearly withdrew from the Chubb Classic.
Playing the Black Course at Tiburón Golf Club at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort sight unseen, he shot a 77 in the first round and followed that up with an even-par 72 on Saturday.
“It’s a tough enough golf course not to know,” Harrington said Saturday. “Some of the green complexes it would’ve been nice to see them, and a few of the doglegs, like 18. I’m still happy to be here.”
Harrington, who turned 50 last August, almost wasn’t.
His uncle died, and he attended the funeral for the 91-year-old in Cork, Ireland. That meant he couldn’t play in either day of the pro-am, and wasn’t going to get into town until Thursday night.
“Yes, it looked like I would withdraw, but they were very accommodating and said, ‘Well look you can come and not play the pro-ams,'” he said. “I said ‘Well that’s great, I’ll do that.’ It wouldn’t be something that would be usual. They were very accommodating and let me come, and I was thankful for that, and that’s why I’m here.
“It was six hours (of travel),” he said. “It’s been a lot of travel this week.”
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Harrington is known for being very meticulous in preparation, but he was able to be flexible.
“I’ve done OK at times in the past, so it’s not ideal, but it’s a bit like routines before you go out,” he said. “You don’t get caught up in everything having to be perfect because things just don’t work out perfect, so that was the case this week.
“I’m delighted that I could come and play. I’m enjoying that element of it.”
Langer, Harrington on Oakland Hills clubhouse: Bernhard Langer was the European Ryder Cup captain when they routed the U.S., 18 1/2-9 1/2, at Oakland Hills in Michigan.
Padraig Harrington played on that team, and later won the PGA Championship there in 2008.
So Thursday’s news of the fire that destroyed the iconic clubhouse, and some of the memorabilia inside it, hit hard.
“The main thing … nobody was hurt,” Harrington said. “Clearly, they can rebuild the clubhouse.”
“It was sad to see,” Langer said Friday. “I mean, it’s always sad to see when something burns down because it just seems such a waste and a disaster and so tragic. At least they didn’t lose any lives, but I believe a lot of memorabilia in the clubhouse. I know they had some of my stuff and you can’t replace some of that.
“So that will be gone, and so much history.”
Oakland Hills has hosted six U.S. Opens. Only two other courses have hosted more. It was recently was awarded the U.S. Women’s Open in 2031 and 2042.
Firefighters apparently were able to save some of the memorabilia after being directed where it was by club officials.
“And even if it’s memorabilia, it can be replaced — it can’t be, but it can be — but the only thing that matters is that nobody was hurt,” Harrington said. “It’s shocking and it’s terrible, but it’s not tragic. At the end of the day, tragic is somebody lost their life, so we can move on.
“They’ll rebuild bigger and better.”
And Harrington is happy to give more to the club when that happens.
“I’m sure there’s many people like myself who have great memories there who would be delighted to donate stuff again,” Harrington said.
Third Hall of Famer out: World Golf Hall of Famer Ian Woosnam, a former Masters champion, withdrew after nine holes in Friday’s first round with neck and back issues. He became the third Hall of Famer to withdraw.
Davis Love III withdrew on Monday, and two-time tournament champion Fred Couples withdrew with back issues Wednesday.
Greg Hardwig is a sports reporter for the Naples Daily News and The News-Press. Follow him on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter: @NDN_Ghardwig, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Support local journalism with this special subscription offer at https://cm.naplesnews.com/specialoffer/