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Notes from inside the ropes

Padraig Harrington’s putting stroke got tentative in a second-round 73 at Transitions.

PALM HARBOR, Fla. – The first sign there was a problem with Padraig Harrington’s putting stroke came on his second nine at the third green. The long, flowing stroke which had resulted in a course-record 61 on Thursday had become short and quick. The problem was more readily apparent at the fourth hole when Harrington decelerated on his 7-foot birdie putt.

The worst came at the sixth and seventh holes when Harrington three-putted for bogeys, missing a two-foot putt at the sixth and then a four-foot par putt at the seventh. Deceleration occurs when the head of the putter slows at impact, causing an inconsistent strike. But Harrington’s putting problems did not affect his post-round press conference, as he patiently answered questions and then walked to the gallery ropes and signed autographs for fans.

Caddie talk: Luke Donald was mad. He had just missed a putt on the 16th hole and hit a bad tee shot at the 17th. He was 1 over in the round and in danger of making another bogey. That’s when John McLaren decided to have chat with his player. It’s always a dicey proposition when the caddie talks to the boss, but Donald was ready to listen. McLaren told his player to stop obsessing over what he couldn’t do and start concentrating on what he could do. The words were exactly what Donald needed to hear. He ripped off three straight birdies to begin the back nine and eventually shoot 3-under 68. It took a veteran caddie knowing when to speak and a mature player knowing when to listen to save the round.

Little John: John Daly can thank "Little John" for his improved short game. While recovering from an elbow injury this winter, Daly could not hit any full shots but he could chip and putt. That’s when 8-year-old "little John" intervened. Daly’s son insisted Dad go out and play with him on the putting and chipping green. The games turned into drills and while Daly was playing with his son, his short game improved dramatically. Daly is still unable to hit full shots but thanks to his short game, he did make the cut shooting 1 under for 36 holes.

Rest: Justin Rose calls it the "reset button." Following his win at the World Golf Championships-Cadillac Championship, Rose made the decision to have a low-key celebration. When he committed to play at the Transitions Championship he also committed to playing his best, both physically and mentally. That’s when Rose hit his personal "reset button.”

“I came here this week to win a tournament, not celebrate last week’s win," the Englishman said. Rose was not bothered by the second round, in which he made just three birdies. "I made all my four-footers, that shows you my technique is sound. I just had a problem matching line and pace today."

Photo by Greenwood, Getty Images

By Fred Albers, PGATOUR

www.Golfgreedy.com

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