BOCA RATON — Padraig Harrington may have shot one of the best 67s Saturday in PGA Tour Champions history.
He started the second round of the TimberTech Championship with a big, fat 8.
That’s right, you can make a snowman in 85-degree weather.
“It was a good 8,” Harrington said of his triple bogey on the par-5 first hole at Royal Palm Yacht & Country Club.
He’s not kidding.
His opening tee shot went out of bounds to the left. His second tee shot should have been out of bounds to the right.
“I got a lucky break,” he said. “My third shot was going out of bounds, but it hit a tree, then hit a fence and was in bounds by an inch. I had to hit the next one left-handed, and that went behind a tree.”
He went for the green with his fifth shot, the ball landing in the water in front of the green. He dropped and hit his seventh shot to 6 feet and one-putted for the “good” 8.
“After that, it turned into a practice round,” Harrington said. “When you feel like the tournament is gone, I reset it and let’s get the game in shape for next week.”
Most pros would have mailed in the next 17 holes. Not Harrington. He’s tougher than an IRS agent.
He birdied the fifth, sixth and ninth hole to get those three shots back and make the turn at even. He gained revenge on the two par-5s on the back nine, making eagles at the 13th and 18th holes, and added a birdie at the 16th.
No surprise Harrington finished his comeback round in style, holing a bunker shot at the 18th for an eagle. What a contrast it was to his struggling start.
Harrington went from a guy who couldn’t get off the first tee — sound familiar to the rest of us? — to playing his last 17 holes in 8-under.
The Irishman has little chance of winning the TimberTech Championship — he’s six shots behind ageless Bernhard Langer, who fired a 63 Saturday as he hopes to move within a win of Hale Irwin’s career mark of 45 PGA Tour Champions titles.
But still … What Harrington did Saturday earned the three-time major champion a ton of cred from his peers, especially on a course where he has zero confidence.
“I find this course exceptionally hard,” he said. “I’m swinging in a straitjacket out there. I wish I had more confidence on this golf course. I was struggling to get off the first tee box. That’s no fun.”
The 67 was meaningful because Harrington is the only player who can deny TimberTech Championship defending champion Steven Alker from winning his first Charles Schwab Cup. Harrington entered this week in second place in the standings, needing to earn $375,000 more than Alker in the last two playoff events to win the CSC.
Alker is in a tie for fourth place after a 68 Saturday and can clinch the title with a runner-up finish or better. Harrington’s amazing recovery left him a shot behind Alker, tied for ninth place.
So you’re saying he’s got a chance?
“Look, (5-under) is better than being 3-over par,” Harrington said. “It gives me a chance if I can shoot a good one tomorrow.”
Harrington was asked how proud he was of his 67, considering the start.
“Doesn’t often turn around like that, but if anybody knows me, they know that when bad things happen to me, I dig deeper,” he said.
It was like he had an excavator in his bag.