VIRGINIA WATER, England (Reuters) - A knee injury forced Padraig Harrington to miss this week’s PGA Championship but the Irishman said he would play at next month’s U.S. Open even if he had to use a crutch.
“There is no doubt about me playing at the (June 16-19) U.S. Open, none at all,” the triple major winner told Reuters in an interview at Wentworth.
“The pain has gone, I still get a little bit of throbbing behind the knee that is being treated, but generally there are no problems with it and even so I’d play with a crutch if I had to.”
Harrington originally hurt his knee at the Quail Hollow Championship in North Carolina earlier this month and the problem flared up again at The Players Championship in Florida.
The 39-year-old sustained the injury after failing to treat a hamstring problem he sustained while running around with his children at his Dublin home.
”I tore my hamstring four weeks ago but I ignored it,“ said Harrington. ”I just didn’t pay too much attention and then I was running up to a teebox at Quail Hollow, looked over my shoulder at the same time and twisted my knee.
”All of a sudden I felt a sharp pain. When I went to the physio I found out that because my hamstring has effectively switched off, the popliteus muscle which is connected from the top of the calf, into the knee and up to the hamstring, had become inflamed.
“I was told I would have to take anti-inflammatories for a whole year unless I took a break for a couple of weeks so by not playing here I’ve nearly got four weeks off from competitive golf,” added Harrington.
“It’s annoying and I am gutted to be missing the PGA but if I don’t allow it to clear up there’s a chance it could come back.”
While the knee problem is keeping him out at Wentworth, it is a long-standing neck injury that continues to occupy much of Harrington’s thoughts.
“I’ve had the neck injury for 10 years, I even had it when I won the Johor Open in Malaysia at the end of last year,” he explained.
”I could barely swing a club on the Saturday although it was a little better on the Sunday. From 2002 to 2011 I was affected by it in around eight events a year but now it’s down to two or three.
“I am more likely to get it in a major championship when I’ve got more nervous tension in my body. It is less likely to happen when I am nice and relaxed.”
Harrington, winner of the British Open in 2007 and 2008 and the U.S. PGA Championship in 2008, went through a spell when he strapped his arm up while sleeping in order to avoid doing more damage to his neck.
”Ninety percent of the work I do in the gym is to support my neck, to build up strength there,“ he said. ”I’ve even changed my impact position to reduce stress on it ... I now have my head down a lot at impact.
”I spent a number of years where I had to tie my arm down so that I wouldn’t sleep on it. I normally sleep on my front so I’d put a belt round the arm when I went to bed so that I didn’t put it near my head and possibly damage the neck.
“The neck is something I have to manage continually.”
Editing by Pritha Sarkar