Padraig attacks at The Grove

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Padraig Harrington’s attacking policy paid dividends as he took a share of the early lead in the American Express world championship at The Grove near Watford today.

Padraig Harrington’s attacking policy paid dividends as he took a share of the early lead in the American Express world championship at The Grove near Watford on Thursday.
The golfing gods still seemed to be shining on Darren Clarke when, paired with Tiger Woods, he sank a bunker shot at the 379-yard first.
One of the 11 European Ryder Cup heroes on view at the event – fellow Dubliner Paul McGinley failed to qualify – Harrington went over the trees and straight for the green on the dogleg hole.
He carried it all the way to the back of the putting surface, chipped to five feet and then made an eight-footer on the long second to advance to two under par.
Four years ago Harrington won the Dunhill links championship at St Andrews seven days after the Ryder Cup triumph at The Belfry, and his start this afternoon made him joint leader with Australians Adam Scott and Robert Allenby and also American Ryder Cup player Stewart Cink.
Clarke and Woods took a more safety-first approach to the first – and while Clarke matched Harrington’s three in dramatic fashion, Woods was 20 feet away in two, but missed the putt.
Over on the back nine Colin Montgomerie bogeyed the 12th and then was in the ditch on the short 12th for another bogey. When he dropped a third shot in a row he was in last place.
The tournament began with the withdrawal of United States captain Tom Lehman, who made the decision so he could attend tomorrow’s funeral of golf legend Byron Nelson.
“I was looking forward to competing this week, but I felt I had an obligation to return home to honour one of the game’s all-time great players and gentlemen,” said Lehman.
Nelson, winner of two Masters, one US Open and two US PGA titles and also of an amazing 11 consecutive tournaments in 1945, passed away at his home in Texas on Tuesday at the age of 94.
Lehman had been hoping, of course, to be basking in the glory of a Ryder Cup victory this week, but his side suffered a record-equalling nine-point defeat at the K Club in Ireland on Sunday.
He is expected to be replaced by Paul Azinger in the next month, while Nick Faldo has already been appointed as Ian Woosnam’s successor.
Lehman’s withdrawal today reduced the size of the field to 62.