Harrington defies wrist pain to fire battling 74

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The Independent Online

It could have been much, much worse. That was the first-day verdict of the reigning Open champion, Padraig Harrington, after a four-over-par 74. Not even a bogey-bogey finish could dampen his spirits too much. He was glad simply to still be in the tournament, and not just in it but within sight of the leaders when so many others had seen their hopes ripped to shreds in the wind and rain.

As few as 12 hours before the Dubliner teed off at 7.58am, he had not been certain he would be able to because of the wrist injury he sustained on Saturday. And then out on the range earlier, he managed just "three or four" shots, and at least one of those made him wince despite having taken painkillers and anti-inflammatories.

"I would have taken my score on the first tee," he said. "And with the way I started [with three bogeys in the first six holes] I was thinking, 'You know, it could be looking like 76 or 77 would be a decent score here today'."

On Wednesday the 36-year-old had rated his chances of playing at 50-50. Last night he upgraded that to "95 per cent", adding: "I'd think there would only be a slim chance of not completing now. I'd have to do something bad to the wrist to not finish."

He described the day's play as "a battle" but said he enjoyed it. He added that the conditions had actually taken his mind off his injury. "The tough weather helped. I focused on the next shot and keeping the grips dry. There was little time to get distracted."