Pod, Westy in the cut zone

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Padraig Harrington was a pale shadow of the three-time major winner he is when he battled to a 77 on Thursday.

Padraig Harrington was a pale shadow of the three-time major winner he is when he battle to a 77 after suffering a recurrence of chronic neck pain on Thursday.

The three-time major champion admitted that he had suffered so much discomfort coming into the first round at Augusta National that he had considered pulling out of the 75th Masters.

It may have been better had he done so for his miserable two-double-bogey, five-over-par round could hardly have done him any good.

“I nearly pulled out before I started,” Harrington said. “But I wouldn’t, for that’s just my nature. I haven’t even come close to swinging the club (decently). I would always have a go, but it wasn’t much fun. I didn’t take any painkillers. I was hoping it would go away, but it got worse.”

Lee Westwood, in the meantime, had other concerns as he sought to shed his status as the best player and only World No 1 never to have won a major.

A 72 did his chances of still being around at the weekend no favours.

“It’s how my game is at the moment,” he said. “If you can’t hole it out from four feet, you’re going to struggle, aren’t you?”

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