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Respectable Open showings from Harrington, Clarke

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By John Manley

Neither Darren Clarke nor Padraig Harrington were in serious contention throughout the U.S. Open at the Olympic club’s Lake Course in San Francisco, but by the same token their play required no apology. Harrington, in his first Open, was 13 over par with his 293 (73-72-76-72), which left him in a tie for 32nd place. Clarke managed a 15-over 295 (74-72-77-72), which earned him a share of 43rd place. Lee Janzen rolled the winning number of 280.

Going into the third round, Harrington was eight shots behind the leader, Payne Stewart. He then brought out the heavy artillery. Harrington got extra yardage with his driver, as his average distance increased by 23 yards on Saturday. But a price was paid in accuracy — only two of his tee shots on Olympic’s 14 holes with par of 4 or 5 landed in the fairway. Likewise, his putter let him down on Saturday. Granted, 32 putts (1.78 average) was nothing to hang one’s head about, but it was five more than he required on Friday. The 76 he signed his name to effectively ended any dreams of emulating Billy Casper’s later charge of three decades ago.

Harrington went back to his irons on Sunday, and found the fairway on 10 occasions. His putter was better behaved, finding the cup with only 29 shakes. Olympic’s greens, extra tricky for this championship, were a puzzle handily solved by Harrington. His average for the 72 holes was 1.64 putts per green. The United States Golf Assn. cut Harrington a check for $18,372.

Clarke was also stymied by a poor third round. He made only eight greens in regulation on Saturday, a significant departure from a corresponding 11 greens on Friday. His putter remained steady throughout the tournament, however. Clarke required 31 putts in each of his four rounds, an average of 1.72 putts per green. His bank account grew by $12,537 as a result of his play. He will next contest the Western Open in suburban Chicago this weekend, before returning to Ireland to get ready for the Irish Open and British Open in July.

Nike Tour

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P.J. Cowan has been bothered by back problems over the last month and Thursday’s first round of the Lehigh Valley Open at the Center Valley Club, just south of Allentown, Pa., appeared as good a tonic as any that could be prescribed by an orthopedist. Cowan knocked out a 5-under 67 to go into Friday’s second round just two shots off the lead. But 18 holes does not a Nike tournament make and Cowan could not break par in any of his next three rounds. He rung up scores of 73,73 and 75 to finish tied for 54th at even-par 288, which was 17 shots off the winning score. Cowan earned $529 for his labors.

John Kernohan was less fortunate than Cowan. After opening with a 72 in the first round, Kernohan would have needed a 69 to make the cut at 141. He was way off that number with a 4-over 76.

European Tour

With the elite in San Francisco for the U.S. Open, the Madeira Island Open at Santo de Serra in Portugal offered a golden opportunity for each player in the field to pick some plums that are ordinarily hard to reach. The Irish trio of David Higgins, Stephen Hamill and Francis Howley were unable to capitalize and finished far back. Higgins, who tied for 51st place, was best of the three with a 7-over 295 (73-71-74-77). Hamill required one shot more than Higgins and tied for 56th at 296 (73-74-72-77). Francis Howley was 70th (and last) with a score of 304 (73-74-77-80).

European Seniors Tour

Joe McDermott and Eddie Polland posted top-10 finishes in the Ryder Seniors Classic at the Welcombe Hotel in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. They both tied for 7th place with 54-hole scores of 3-under 207. McDermott’s cards read 68, 72 and 67, while Polland had rounds of 68, 71 and 68. They were five shots off the winning score of 202 by Bill Hardwick of Toronto, Canada. Tied for 17th at 210 were Arnold O’Connor (72-67-71) and Denis O’Sullivan (72-69-69). Gordon Parkhill tied for 37th at 216 (71-69-76), Hugh Boyle shared 44th place at 218 (72-70-76), and Liam Higgins was alone in 49th at 220 (70-72-78).

Failing to make the cut with a 36-hole score of 145 or better were Kenny Stevenson (148), Paul Leonard (149), Tommy Halpin (149), Michael Murphy (151), Dr. Arthur Spring (152) and Hugh Jackson (156).

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