Two weeks after Padraig Harrington returned from neck surgery, he was struck in the left elbow by the club of an amateur he was teaching at a clinic.
Harrington required six deep stitches because he said the club hit him so flush that it cut into the bursa sac around the joint. He had to withdraw from the FedEx St. Jude Classic in Memphis, Tennessee, and hopes to be out only two weeks.
''There's no truth to the rumor it was the amateur's best strike of the day,'' Harrington said in a telephone interview Tuesday.
It was no laughing matter Monday at a clinic outside Washington, D.C. Harrington's first thought was that he had shattered his elbow. When he saw the blood, he rushed to press ice against it immediately.
''Barring me fainting from the shock of pain, once I numbed it up, I couldn't feel anything,'' Harrington said.
Harrington, who tied for 31st at the Memorial last week, said he was trying to teach the amateur how to fix his hook. He was standing to the side, shoulder to shoulder to show the amateur what the swing should look like. Harrington stepped away and the man kept swinging.
''Caught me on the left elbow - middle of the clubface, middle of the elbow,'' Harrington said. ''I was pretty sure it was broken.''
Harrington said he went to an emergency room, where the doctor treating him had been on call two weeks ago at the Senior PGA Championship at Trump National. He said the stitches were deep to help prevent the area from getting infected, which was his only concern.
The three-time major champion already had missed three months to have neck surgery, and he was happy that he had recovered in plenty of time to play the British Open and PGA Championship this summer. The Open is at Royal Birkdale, where the Irishman won in 2008.
And now this.
''I've been hit before,'' Harrington said. ''The common one is I've done a couple of junior clinics, and they've hit me on the shin with the golf ball. Of course, you can't start crying in front of a 9-year-old. You just jump around because you can't curse and you can't cry.''
In this case, he said, he nearly fainted. And he said the amateur felt terrible.
''When I came back from the hospital, I gave him a big hug,'' Harrington said. ''It was a pure accident. These things happen. I know he felt bad. And he actually told me I straightened out his hook.''