One wonders quite how far down the list of potential invitees organisers of the PGA Grand Slam of Golf, panicked by Ernie Els’ sudden withdrawal, had to travel before happening upon the name of Padraig Harrington.
Major-less since his victory at the 2008 PGA Championship, the 41-year-old was a late and perplexing addition to the four-man field in Bermuda this week, but exhibitied few insecurities en route to carding a five-under-par 66 to lead the event after Tuesday’s opening round.
Harrington currently enjoys a two- and three-shot buffer over reigning major champions Bubba Watson (68) and Webb Simpson (69), respectively, while Keegan Bradley, winner of the 2011 PGA Championship, sits in a relatively distant fourth place after carding a level-par 72.
Though easily dismissed as an inconsequential post-season exhibition, the Grand Slam nonetheless affords its current leader the opportunity to end not one, but two unflattering streaks.
Indeed, the Irishman is bidding to both claim his first tournament victory since the 2010 Iskandar-Johor Open and, in doing so, bank his largest paycheque since a second-place finish at the 2009 Bridgestone Invitational.
He was in understandably jovial mood following the round:
“Every day I play, I make an effort to talk to my playing partners and today everyone was up for a chat, so it was better than ever… I play better when the whole group enjoys it so, if the guys have any sense, they shouldn’t talk to me in the second round.”
And who knows, a strong showing tomorrow might just prompt the Dubliner to reconsider the sale of his $2million jet.