Sep
22
2010
OCD Harrington Searches for Form, Sanity in Paris Suburbs
By Conor Nagle under European PGA Tour

Welcome new WUP contributor Conor Nagle. He recently wrote a nice email, sucking up to the point where I couldn’t say no to his request to write for me. He even attached a resume! Conor is a graduate student and journalist from Wicklow, Ireland. When not watching or playing golf, he can usually be found wandering the streets of Dublin in an effort to turn a love of procrastination and European Tour trivia to his advantage. His greatest moment on the golf course came thirteen years ago, when a thinned three-wood shot, skimming its way to a watery grave, was granted a reprieve courtesy of very solid contact with an cruising duck. Miraculously, both duck and scorecard avoided long-term damage. Needless to say, the golf has largely been downhill since then.

Though you’d be forgiven for not noticing, the 2010 P. Harrington came with not only a diminished ability to find fairways, but was also at least 12-15lbs lighter than previous models. The reason? Neurotic calorie counting and use of a heart monitor, of course! The man himself took time out after the US Open to explain (via Irish Golf Desk):

“It’s pretty straightforward, I wear a monitor and it measures exactly what I burn up every day and it’s kind of stopped me obsessing,” he said, pointing to a band that was just visible under his tee shirt. “I would have always been thinking, ‘have I eaten enough today, did I get enough energy in?’… It measures my heart rate. It can estimate how many calories I’m burning up. I’m 12 and a half stone. And my BMI (Body Mass Index) is 12 something.”

Straightforward, indeed. Use of a heart monitor to perfectly regulate his food intake has prevented him from growing too fixated on weight and fitness. Diet logic this tortured is rarely seen outside the pages of People magazine—and before I’m criticised for being unduly harsh, I should mention that the whole idea would probably have been easier to take had his newly spindly legs not spent the subsequent months ferrying him from one fairway bunker to another.

That Harrington’s a man fueled by an inhuman obsession with detail and structure is pretty well documented, but much like last year’s endless ‘swing changes’ saga and a handful of other episodes, his recent aversion to sandwiches seems to be more the work of a man trying to stay busy than a genuine attempt at game improvement. The need to indulge the very quirks that brought him to the top of the game, it seems, is largely at fault for his wildly fluctuating recent form.

It’s with some relief, then, that European fans can turn to his comments ahead of this week’s Vivendi Trophy, a pretty relaxed affair held at Golf de Joyenval outside Paris:

“I’ve been trying to figure out why I haven’t been carrying my practice days onto the golf course – whether I’m trying too hard or maybe being hard on myself or being grumpy or not patient enough or not enjoying it enough… But I’m pretty happy now, I think I know where I am with that. I’m keen to get back out on the golf course because I think I’ve the right balance between not over-trying and enjoying it out there.”

Maybe, just maybe, a heap of recent criticism (coming at the tail end of two long, winless years) and the prospect of hammering an ill-equipped American team in Wales will provide the slap in the face he needs to start spending his time and energy wisely again. If that’s the case, the European team’s perceived weakest link might well prove one of its strongest.