SOUTHPORT, England -- For a non-contact sport, golf certainly seems to have its fair share of walking wounded as the British Open gets ready to commence Thursday at Royal Birkdale. There's Tiger Woods, of course, missing his first major as a professional because of his bum left knee/leg. Last week Englishman Luke Donald, No. 21 in the World Ranking, pulled out of the Open because the left wrist he hurt in the final round of the U.S. Open hasn't healed.
Now there's a real possibility that Padraig Harrington, the defending British Open champion, could miss his Thursday tee time as well because of an injury to his right wrist suffered Saturday. No, it didn't come when R&A officials tried prying the claret jug out of his hands; Harrington says he hurt it while swinging a golf club into an impact bag during a practice session.
To avoid further damage, Harrington had shut things down for a few days and played only nine holes at Birkdale Tuesday, avoiding hitting any shots from the thatchy rough. He walked the remaining holes with his foursome that included Woody Austin, Stephen Ames and Damien McGrane, hitting only shots around the green. (Harrington's caddie, Ronan Flood, dropped off the bag at the turn and carried only a few wedges and the putter.)
"Obviously I have to manage it between now and then," Harrington told reporters Tuesday when asked about whether he might have to withdraw from the tournament. "I've got to make sure I don't do anything to it. If I do nothing to it between now and Thursday, I'll be able to play."
Harrington wound up doing close to nothing on Wednesday. While hitting balls on the driving range, he hit only a handful of full shots on the course before deciding to stick with chipping and putting again for the rest of his practice round.
-- Ryan Herrington