- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 17, 2008

From combined dispatches

SOUTHPORT, England | If this were nearly any other week, Padraig Harrington already would be home.

Instead, he was strolling around blustery Royal Birkdale, still trying to cope with the pain in his right wrist, still trying to work out how he can possibly defend his British Open championship.

Harrington cut short another practice round Wednesday on the eve of the tournament, managing only three full swings before his wrist started throbbing again. He walked the rest of the course, limiting himself to chipping and putting, the only things he felt comfortable enough to risk.

So, will he play?

“I can’t say honestly at this moment,” Harrington said as he strolled down the middle of the 18th fairway, midway through a practice round that was little more than a pleasant walk.

Later, after coming off the ninth green, he was a bit more specific about his prospects. Harrington said it was 75 percent likely he would at least tee off, but put his chances of making it through the first round at only 50 percent.

The Irishman sprained his wrist last weekend while hitting into an impact bag, golf’s version of the punching bag. He took a couple of days off, then hit the course Tuesday. He managed play nine holes before his wrist forced him to cut out any full swings on the back side.

Harrington returned early Wednesday, headed to the practice range and didn’t have any problems.

Passing up home

As much as Steve Stricker loves competing in the British Open, it hurts to miss the U.S. Bank Championship in Milwaukee, close to where he grew up and still lives.

For cheeseheads like Stricker and Jerry Kelly, the PGA Tour stop in Milwaukee is close to a fifth major.

“I do wish Milwaukee could have another date,” Stricker said. “I’m kind of a proponent of having no tournaments opposite these majors. I would love to be able to take advantage of some of the tournaments that are opposite the majors, especially Milwaukee. I miss being there. I haven’t been there the last couple years. But obviously, you’ve got to come here when you’re exempt and able to play.”

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