"I was struggling with my game, so my head was very much down," Harrington said. "I saw a little bit of the nice coastline and scenery, but it was very much a workmanlike day. Every shot I was a bit worried. It was a tough day out there for me, and luckily, the putts were dropping and it kept me right in there."
U.S. Open champion Angel Cabrera nearly caught him until his 15-foot eagle putt came up short on the 18th hole, giving him a 68.
U.S. Masters champion Zach Johnson and Jim Furyk each had a 71 in rounds that looked nothing alike. Johnson had to play a shot out of someone's backyard on the second hole and was 4 over through five holes until playing bogey-free the rest of the way. Furyk, the replacement for Tiger Woods, made 15 pars and very few putts and was only glad he wasn't farther behind.
Overall, it wasn't a bad start for an exhibition event that changed islands and oceans for the first time in 13 years.
The Grand Slam of Golf, the most exclusive field in golf reserved only for the year's major champions, left Poipu Bay Golf Course in Hawaii after 13 years for the Mid-Ocean Club in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, a course that measures only 6,666 yards but still offered a stern test with swirling breezes, hidden pins and greens so pure the players at times got too aggressive.
"You feel like you can hole the putts," Harrington said. "I ran my putt by 6 feet on the 17th because I was thinking I could hole it from 20 feet. You get caught up by the facts that the greens are very good."
Harrington has the most experience, having arrived early enough to play 15 holes on Sunday, followed by his pro-am round Monday. But he battled with his swing, hitting left into the water on par-3 third and scrambling for bogey, then nearly hitting his tee shot on the fifth hole into the water. He hit his approach into 18 feet for birdie and the recovery began.
The Irishman holed an 8-footer for birdie on the sixth, made a 20-foot putt on the eighth, and looked as though he might run away from the field with consecutive birdies early on the back nine, including his 5-iron to 18 feet on the 12th.
But the score was somewhat of a mirage.
"I didn't play very well," Harrington said. "I just managed to hole the right putts and made the right decisions."
Cabrera made short work of the par 5s, as expected, and had only one bogey on his card. That also came on the 13th, with his ball a few yards in front of Harrington, a chip that wasn't much better.
"I hit the ball pretty solid," he said through his caddie, Eddie Gardino. "I've played a lot of golf lately. I'm not 100 percent, but I will be up to 100 percent."
Asked when that would happen, Cabrera needed no translator.
"Tomorrow," he said.
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