Harrington returns hoping for Czech progress

The irishman is hoping to go one better this year

Padraig Harrington returns to this week’s D+D Real Czech Masters hoping to go one better than his debut appearance 12 months ago, when the Irishman finished runner-up to Andrea Pavan after a thrilling final day battle.

Czech Masters - Harrington returns this week, hoping to better his runner-up finish at his debut appearance 12 months ago
Credit: Getty Images

“I’ve been injured earlier this year with the broken wrist and I’m back playing for a few months now but they tell me it’s going to be close to the end of the year before it’s fully healed in the sense that I won’t be thinking about it.

“It doesn’t seem to affect my golf swing. It affects me a little bit on some of the bunker shots and chip shots. I’m good to play though, it’s not getting in my head on the golf course.”

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The 2020 Ryder Cup Captain shared a three-stroke lead with the Italian going into Sunday last year at Albatross Golf Resort, and it was Pavan who upset the odds by toppling the three-time Major winner courtesy of a blistering back nine performance.

“It was very tight last year, there was a great ebb and flow to that final round. It was exciting, the golf was good, it was low scoring so there were birdies as well. There was plenty of drama.

“I thought I had it, all the way up to the 69th hole where I missed a short putt and then he holed a big putt on the the 70th hole and had a two shot lead with two holes to play. There weren’t enough holes for me to come back.”

Harrington’s last European Tour win came three years ago at the Portugal Masters and he has struggled to build any consistency in the 2019 campaign following an injury over the winter break, so he will be hoping memories of his best performance of 2018 can provide a welcome confidence boost in Prague.

His fellow multiple Major winner Ernie Els makes his debut this week, while former World Number One Lee Westwood returns for his fourth consecutive appearance at Albatross. Bernd Wiesberger, currently second in the Race to Dubai Rankings Presented by Rolex, also plays as does Eddie Pepperell, who accepted a late invite and enters as the highest-ranked player in the field.

“I have had a lot of treatment on my back,” said Els. “It’s nothing too serious but serious enough that I couldn’t play an event recently. When the ball’s in the rough, it’s tough to follow through. I’ve had it before so we worked it out and it should be good.

“It’s a beautiful hotel here, and a beautiful city. There has been a lot of rain and so it will be very different from last year but we will see as we go along.”

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