Padraig Harrington told Off The Ball about his experience of COVID-19, his recovery, and isolation in a hotel room.
The Ryder Cup captain is taking part in the Genesis Open at Pacific Palisades from Thursday, shortly after testing positive for COVID.
Padraig Harrington on COVID
Speaking from isolation in his hotel room, Harrington told us about the onset of symptoms.
“I worried when the symptoms started coming on, but I never lost my sense of taste or smell, those sort of neurological things are more of a worry. I had one friend who went through a similar case as me, so he was the best resource for me because he was telling me how he was mentally up and down - you get a sniffle or a cough at some stage and you think it’s back.
“I am sure that if this was it for everybody, they would be good with that but clearly it is a very serious thing for a lot of people.”
For athletes in particular, the issue of long-term fatigue is a worrying aspect to recovery.
“Long COVID is an issue, and I would have been pretty well-versed on what the scenario is if you get COVID. But you have to study up on what you have to do once you’ve had COVID. It’s quite complicated, it doesn’t make it easy to travel, that’s for sure.
“I can’t travel back to Ireland unless I get a negative PCR test, that could take months. There are complications, it is not as straightforward as you think afterwards, even though supposedly, I’m immune from it for eight months - or possibly as nobody really knows.
“I have to do everything because you could still transmit it even though you are unlikely to necessarily get infected.”
Harrington said it was hard to escape a feeling of some guilt for having caught the virus.
“It’s strange, I feel bad that I caught it because you kind of go: did you do everything you could have done? And clearly the fact that I went out and played tournaments means I didn’t do everything I could have done. I could have stayed at home.
“You feel guilty that you’ve caught it but - thankfully - I haven’t been a burden to anybody, so hopefully it stays that way.”
The convalescence gave Harrington ample time to catch up on the really important things in life.
“I binged Netflix to start with, I went through the first two seasons of Mindhunter in two days but then got bored of it very quickly,” Harrington said, before denying an interest in Bridgerton.
“I got bored of Netflix, just the whole idea of it. Somebody sent me on a WhatsApp of ‘80s TV, just four minutes of TV programmes from the ‘80s. Wow, did I go down the rabbit hole…
“I honestly watched every number one video from the ‘80s that was on YouTube - from the US and the UK charts. I watched all the old shows, but I struggled to get complete a season of anything since that day!”
It’s not been all pleasure though, as Harrington explained.
“The last couple of days I’ve had meetings, Ryder Cup stuff. I’ve done a few interviews, so I’ve done a bit and fit in a bit of swinging practice in the room.”