Saturday 21 April 2018

Harrington digs deep to survive cut

Karl T Jones

WHEN Phil Mickelson's hot, he's blistering. Conversely, when Padraig Harrington's cold, he's constantly seems to be fighting off frostbite.

As Mickelson swept into the early clubhouse lead during yesterday's second round of the Northern Trust Open, Harrington just about squeezed through the halfway cut at Riviera Country Club.

Days after clinching his 40th PGA Tour victory with a sizzling final-round 64 at Pebble Beach, Mickelson is in hot pursuit of his third win in four years at Pacific Palisades.

Even when his momentum seemed to slow a little during yesterday's second round, Mickelson came up with a touch of pure Hollywood on the eighth hole, holing out from 108 yards down the fairway for a magnificent eagle.

"It was a tough pin if you go long so I decided to hook in a lob-wedge with some side spin on it and it went in," said the 41-year-old Californian. "It was kind of a lucky shot but I was just a little off today, so it was nice to see it go in.

"I'd a tough day today," added Mickelson, who missed short putts to save par at holes seven and nine but still signed for a one-under-par 70.

Yet, following the sweet 66 he shot on Thursday to take the first round lead, yesterday's effort moved Mickelson to six-under for the tournament through 36 holes and well capable of emulating his victories here in 2008 and 2009.

Inspired by last Sunday's 11-shot trouncing of his arch-rival Tiger Woods at Pebble Beach, Mickelson certainly has the confidence to complete his fourth back-to-back success on the PGA Tour and first since he won the 2006 US Masters seven days after victory at the Bell South.

Harrington, fresh from a morale-boosting top-10 finish last weekend, had to show true grit in the latter stages of his second round just to make the weekend in Riviera.

The Dubliner slipped outside the projected cut mark with a slipshod bogey at 12 but instantly rebounded by sinking a six-foot putt for birdie at 13, before dropping another shot out of an ugly lie in a greenside bunker at the short 16th.

Again, Harrington was equal to the challenge, landing a lovely two-putt birdie at the long 17th to squeeze back inside the cut mark on two-over before defending his position with a neat par on the exacting final hole.

A second-round 70 was a commendable effort by Ireland's triple Major-winner, especially after his day got off to a thoroughly dispiriting start.

Harrington had been one of 30 players still on the golf course when darkness fell on Thursday. After sleeping on a six-foot putt for par on eight, his penultimate hole, he then missed it yesterday morning before racking up a three-putt bogey at nine for a first-round 74.

Northern Trust Open,

Live, Sky Sports 3, 6.0

Irish Independent

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