Thursday 21 September 2017

Harrington in the mix after birdie blitz

adraig Harrington tees off on the sixth hole during the second round of the Omega European Masters in Crans Montana,
adraig Harrington tees off on the sixth hole during the second round of the Omega European Masters in Crans Montana,

William S Callahan

Padraig Harrington broke his dispiriting three-month birdie drought in the Swiss Alps.

Harrington had eight birdies on his card as a second-round 65 at the Omega European Masters sent him soaring into contention for his first Tour victory in five years.

The Dubliner's confidence bottomed-out last month as he missed America's FedEx Cup play-offs for the first time, but he spectacularly burst out of the shadows in Crans.

Harrington, 42 last Saturday, even chipped in for birdie from the drop zone at the last after smashing a bunker shot deep into the grandstand behind the green.

This stroke of good fortune helped lift him up to 13th on seven-under, three shy of joint leaders Thomas Bjorn, who made 66 after dropping his first shot in 36 holes at 18, and Stephen Gallacher, Harrington's Scottish playing companion who matched his 65.

BUNKER

"I played very nicely today," said Harrington. "I hit a lot of balls close. It was a good round of golf, so it was nice to get away with it at 18 after hitting my tee shot into a bunker.

"It's never nice coming out of a bunker over water," he added. "You never want to hit it fat and I hit it into the grandstand; if it hadn't been there, I'd have been out of bounds for sure. "

Yet Harrington got a bad break at 16, where he made his second bogey four of the day after his tee shot fell short into an impossible position in a greenside trap.

Harrington left Crans after missing the cut in 2000 believing he'd never return, but after posting his lowest round since June's St Jude Classic in Memphis, he entered the weekend with a spring in his step.

A three-under-par 67 left Alan Dunbar tied in second place with Scotland's Jamie McLeary, four behind Italy's Andrea Pavan, in the Challenge Tour's Brittany Open in Pleneuf Val Andre.

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