Three-time Major Champion Padraig Harrington showed a touch of class by including ball-marking training in a clinic for children in the HSBC Interactive Zone at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship on Saturday.
Harrington was disqualified from the event on Friday morning, for signing an incorrect scorecard, after close-up TV pictures revealed his ball had moved as he replaced it on the seventh green the day before.
The Irishman, twice an Open Championship winner, coached the watching children, former New Zealand cricket captain Chris Cairns and international rugby legends Gavin Hastings and Jonathan Davies as well as Simon Cooper the CEO of HSBC Middle East and North Africa on the correct procedure.
“They seemed to think marking your ball is all very easy, but obviously it isn’t,” Harrington joked.
“I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t had my ups and downs, especially given I’d shot 65 on Thursday, but the whole point about golf is that you have to respect the rules and the whole thing about life in general is that, when things don’t go your way you have to find a way to laugh about it,” he added.
“What is most impressive is how Padraig has accepted what happened to him with such grace and has demonstrated the integrity of the game with such a sporting acceptance of the rules. It’s a credit to him,” said Simon Cooper.
“The fact that he came out to help inspire the kids and get them playing, swinging and increase their passion for sport is a bonus. The whole reason we put all the effort and investment into the HSBC Interactive Zone is to inspire children and help them find a healthy, active lifestyle to take into their adult lives. We’re grateful to Padraig for helping us,” he added.
“I think he’s shown a great attitude and Padraig has been fantastic in accepting the situation,” said former Scotland international Gavin Hastings, although that didn’t stop him teasing Padraig about it during the clinic.
“It just shows how complex the rules and decisions of golf are.”
“I’m just glad they didn’t have super slo-mo when I was playing to see how bad my bowling release was!,” added Cairns. “It was actually physically impossible to bowl within the old rules of cricket when you analysed everyone’s bowling action frame-by-frame. It was good to see Padraig out with the kids and having fun with it.”
Harrington spent time explaining, in some detail, that he has a set technique for marking his Titleist ball, using the leading edge to align his coin and never sliding it all the way under, specifically to avoid nudging the ball when he removes it.
Spectators can still enjoy all the facilities in the HSBC Interactive Zone, in the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority’s Championship Village during the final day of the tournament on Sunday. A further exciting innovation HSBC has introduced to spread the championship spirit and involve the local community sees HSBC customers to experience the Championship for free, simply by presenting their HSBC bank or credit cards at the entrance on Sunday 23rd January.
Tickets are still available via the event’s official website, www.abudhabihsbcgolfchampionship.com, as well as online at www.timeouttickets.com and www.itptickets.com. Phone bookings can be made through the ITP toll-free hotline 800 4669, or for international visitors, +971 4 210 8943.