Having been on the sidelines for the past 13 months Paul Waring is certainly the freshest player at the Irish Open, and the Englishman is perhaps also the most relieved after compiling two pain-free rounds of exceptional golf which have yielded nine birdies and a pair of eagles.
After opening with rounds of 69 and 65 Waring, whose troublesome wrist injury has now completely healed, currently sits on ten under par, level with three-time Major Champion Padraig Harrington of Ireland and just two shots off the lead held by Frenchman Grégory Bourdy.
Waring’s troubles started last May, when he was forced to withdraw from the BMW PGA Championship after feeling a shooting pain down his arm.
The 27 year old immediately went for an MRI scan, which revealed an abnormal bone growth, and promptly booked himself in for an operation.
Thirteen months of rehabilitation and countless hours of physiotherapy later, Waring is back in action and keen to make up for lost time.
He said: “It’s great to be back playing and even better to be back in contention. I’ve worked really hard on my game whilst I’ve been away, so I guess there’s no reason why I shouldn’t be shooting decent scores. And I suppose mentally there’s no real expectations on me, so I’m having a lot fun and really enjoying myself.
“It’s been a weird 14 months being away from the game. It’s been so frustrating, but this is the earliest I could have got back out. I’ve been dying to get back out here. I’ve been bored out of my head, so as soon as I could get out here, I could. I just didn’t want to rush it and risk re‑injuring it.”
Waring has picked a special event for his return, with almost 28,000 spectators pouring through the gates on the second day of the €2million event, which is being played in Northern Ireland for the first time since 1953.
Like most players, Waring has been taken aback by the rapturous reception the players have received this week, and even his normally garrulous caddie was momentarily rendered speechless when first confronted by the record crowds.
He said: “I have a good friend on my bag, and he’s normally very chatty. He usually gives quite a lot of banter, but after arriving at the course for my practice session on Tuesday, he was quiet as a mouse seeing all of the people. He went really into his shell. I asked him for a yardage, and I’ve never stumped him so much in my life. I think he had trouble adding two plus two!”