Harrington blames cold putter for slow start
Padraig Harrington's perennial smile was more of the clenched-jaw variety as his scoring once again failed to match the quality of his overall play at the Singapore Open.
Shane Lowry and Michael Hoey were best of the 10-strong Irish contingent on Sentosa Island after both shot four-under-par 67s -- Ulsterman Hoey's effort being the more impressive because it was recorded on the more difficult Serapong course.
Harrington's 69 at the Tanjong course left him seven strokes off the scorching pace set by Italy's Edoardo Molinari and James Morrison of England, who both plundered birdies at will on their way to first-round 62s over this shorter, less demanding course.
The Dubliner really should have been much closer to the top of the leaderboard than a share of 54th after hitting 17 greens in regulation. However, Harrington's wedge play and, especially, his putting simply weren't sharp enough.
"I played quite nicely early on and only missed one green all day," said Harrington, who had sped to three-under through the first seven holes, but then played the next 11 in one-over.
"I holed two putts -- a six-footer and a 15-footer -- in the round. You've got to hole more than that," conceded the 40-year-old, clearly frustrated after taking no fewer than 34 putts yesterday.
Wallowing at 79th in the world and 74th in the European Tour money list, Harrington must rediscover his putting form on pacy yet perplexing greens in Asia over the coming weeks if he is to make the 60-man field for the season-ending Dubai World Championship or regain pride of place in golf's elite top 50.
Playing with panache after his recent fourth place at Valderrama, Clara man Lowry swept to four-under with an eagle three at the Tanjong's par-five sixth, but would face a sterner test of his mettle on the Serapong early today.
Hoey (32) showed the fighting qualities that underpinned his victory at St Andrews in last month's Dunhill Links Championship as he rebounded from deflating bogeys at 15 and 16 at the Serapong to finish off his 67 with sweet back-to-back birdies.
His confidence restored by last weekend's third at the HSBC Champions, Graeme McDowell also looked like a man who could challenge for top honours here on Sunday as he compiled an impressive 68 at the Serapong.
The Portrush ace shared 32nd place on three-under with Peter Lawrie and Paul McGinley, after the two Dubliners performed brightly at the Tanjong but still left a couple of shots on the greens.
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