Some of Padraig Harrington’s fellow professionals will be shocked to see the three-time major winner at the Masters next week just three weeks after undergoing surgery on his neck.
Harrington required disc replacement to treat a trapped nerve, with the procedure ruling him out of action for eight to 10 weeks.
However, the Dubliner will be at Augusta for the first major of the year as he takes to the commentary booth for broadcaster Sky Sports.
Speaking on RTÉ 2FM’S Game On programme, Harrington revealed that surgery was inevitable and that his recovery was going well.
“I tried everything; I’d three injections in my neck, I’d all the physio, I had the rest periods, I’d tried everything.
“The problem was it actually was getting worse.”
Post-surgery, Harrington will be hopeful of returning ahead of schedule as his rehabilitation has been pain-free.
“I’m an odd patient, in the sense that I’ve had a knee done and a neck done and I’ve been in no pain after either of them.
“I took nothing stronger than a paracetamol after the operation.
“That’s been strange about this injury, I haven’t been in pain.”
Tks to Dr Ashley Poynton & Matter https://t.co/QauhxluRaM's an X-ray of the disc replacement and decompression at C7 pic.twitter.com/Sr2Vr8E5nu— Padraig Harrington (@padraig_h) March 17, 2017
Looking ahead to his role at next week’s Masters, Harrington quipped: “I like to talk. And what’s worse, people are going to have to listen!
“I’ve sat in once or twice in the booth before. I like doing it.
“Hopefully I’m sufficiently on the ground in terms of playing that I will be able to give an insight.”
The 45-year-old also insisted that his peers wouldn’t be afforded an easy ride when he goes behind the mic.
“I very much will be wearing my commentator’s hat.
“I’ll be talking about these players and giving as much information as I can, regardless if I’m going to be playing with them the following week, whether they’re happy or not happy about what I’ve said in commentary.
“I’d rather watch my commentator be a little bit hard and give some tough criticism, rather than be sickly-nice all the time.
“I’m not a great fan of the commentators that are always on the player’s side.”
Harrington believes in-from Dustin Johnson will be the man to beat at Augusta, with Rory McIlroy likely to pose the greatest threat to the current world number one.
“DJ is the most likely guy to play his game next week. If he does turn up and play his game and performs, he’s going to be the winner,” Harrington said.
“Rory’s the only guy capable of beating him at this very moment.”
Harrington is a member of Jon Rahm’s growing fan club, and while he expressed the view that victory may just be beyond the young Spaniard next week, he predicted a rise to the very top of the sport for Ram in the years ahead.
“We’re looking at a future world number one,” he said.
“We’re not looking at a player that might get to the top 10 in the world. We’re looking at a player that will be ensconced in the top 10 for a good period of time.
“We’re looking at a European number one.
“This guy is going to play in 10 Ryder Cups, he’s going to be our number one in Ryder Cups.”
McIlroy and Shane Lowry will be Ireland's only representatives in Augusta.