The 45-year-old Irishman can’t wait to return to the site of the second of his three major titles, having not returned since his four-shot victory in 2008, but a neck injury is doing its best to hamper preparations.
It’s hurting at the moment
He has a trapped nerve that is currently being treated with a cortisone injection, with the side effects resulting in a big drop-off in distance off the tee.
“The problem I get from it [the injection] is pins and needles,” explained Padraig Harrington, who is playing in this week’s Honda Classic.
“I’ve had numbness in my right hand. I have atrophy in my right triceps. Probably lost about five miles an hour of clubhead speed. I saw last week at the stats that I hit it 50 yards short of where Dustin did last week.
“You know, when you are used to having it and you don’t have it, that’s a lot worse than if you never had it at all. It’s hurting at the moment in that sense.”
Harrington will seek more medical advice when he returns home to Ireland but is under no illusions that, with a 12-week lay-off ahead if he opts for surgery, he is in a race against time to make a decision.
“They are talking up to 12 weeks without hitting a shot and then a couple of weeks,” he added. “So if I go and have it done, pretty much immediately, I’d be ready to go back playing just sometime in mid-June. So I’d be in good time for The Open.
“If I delay surgery, thinking I’m getting better, and then I end up having to have surgery in May or something like that, that would be a disaster to miss out obviously on Birkdale and miss out on the PGA, as well, during the summer.
“I was focusing on trying to have a great start to the season so that I could get into the Masters, and US Open. The injury has kind of changed my focus. My focus has moved to being sharp and ready for The Open – it’s all about that now.”