Three-time major winner Pádraig Harrington demonstrated his mastery of links golf to set a daunting clubhouse target on day two of the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open.
Harrington, who initially feared for his career after being struck on the elbow by an amateur during a coaching session last month, added a second round of 68 to his opening 67 to finish nine under par.
That gave the 45-year-old Dubliner a three-shot lead over American Matt Kuchar, with first-round leader Mikko Ilonen and England’s David Horsey - who recorded a hole-in-one on the 11th in his 68 - a shot further back.
“Today was positively boring compared to yesterday, when there was a lot of drama,” Harrington said after a round containing four birdies and no bogeys. “I hit two nice seven irons on the first and second, my 10th and 11th holes, and birdied two of the par fives.
“Yesterday I started off a bit iffy and got a few breaks. I was two under after three and I could have been two over. Then when the rain came in I really struggled but I holed a massive putt for par on 16 and chipped in from 30 yards for a birdie on 17.
“So it was nice to go out and play solid. It’s nice when there is no stress.”
Harrington defeated Sergio Garcia in a play-off to win the Open at Carnoustie in 2007 and defended the title at Royal Birkdale the following year, before winning the US PGA a month later.
The Open returns to Birkdale next week and Harrington is relaxed about the prospect of getting his hands on the Claret Jug for the third time. “Anything that comes my way from here would be a bonus,” added Harrington, who has played just nine events in 2017.