Sport Golf

Sunday 22 April 2018

Harrington ends Friday hoodoo to make cut

Justin Rose of England hits a tee shot on the 6th hole during the second round of the Valspar Championship
Justin Rose of England hits a tee shot on the 6th hole during the second round of the Valspar Championship

William S Callaghan

BATTLING Padraig Harrington broke his Friday hoodoo as he and fellow Major champion Darren Clarke squeezed through to the weekend at the Valspar Championship.

Though Harrington yet again wobbled down the stretch in his second round and spent an uncomfortable afternoon dangling on the cut mark at Copperhead, a gutsy birdie three at 18 ensured the Dubliner at last received some reward for his never-say-die attitude. As his second-round 70 suggests, the Dubliner (42) played markedly better yesterday than in Thursday's 75.

Yet Harrington and Ulsterman Clarke, who shot a slipshod 74 in the second round, still endured an anxious wait to see if three-over would be good enough.

Though 10 adrift of runaway leader Robert Garrigus after a stunning 66 by the American, Harrington and Clarke were just seven behind second-placed Kevin Na as the field bunched tightly on one of the PGA Tour's toughest courses.

Both Irishmen will have one eye on this evening's secondary cut, made necessary by the fact that more than 79 survived the guillotine yesterday.

Having failed to make the weekend in four of his last five events, it was crucial for Harrington to break that trend. Friday on Tour was becoming an ordeal for the 42-year-old and the pressure showed on his homeward nine yesterday.

He was almost flawless as the made his way to the turn in two-under. Yet a little angst showed at 11, where he needed to hole form 11 feet to save par. Then he made bogey four at 13 after short-siding himself in left rough.

Though Harrington rebounded with a nice birdie out of a bunker at the 14th, he dropped a three-putt clanger at 16, first hole of Copperhead's 'Snake Pit', and was badly bitten once again as he made bogey at the short but deadly 17th.

Many others might have given up ... instead, Harrington brilliantly carved out the birdie at 18 that could turn-around his season.

Michael Hoey lay eight behind leader Alejandro Canizares at the Trophee Hassan II but still was a man to watch entering the weekend at Agadir's exclusive Palais Royal because of his swashbuckling golf. Hoey (35) winner here in 2012, had as many spills and thrills as Gold Cup Day at Cheltenham, especially during the mazy final six holes of the second-round 70 which propelled him into eighth on six-under.

Four-under for his first 12 holes, including an eagle three at 15, Hoey was in his element but fortune certainly did not favour his bravery on holes four, five and six, where aggressive play yielded three successive bogeys.


Then, after holing an uphill left-to-right putt from about 12 feet for birdie two at seven, Hoey was too aggressive with a 30-foot birdie attempt at eight and missed the long one back. He made amends at nine, hitting a nice 130-yard pitching wedge to seven feet and adroitly holing for birdie.

Damien McGrane (73, -2) and Shane Lowry (72, level) also made the cut, the latter on the mark after saving par from a bunker at nine.

Like McGrane, Kevin Phelan and Paul McGinley burned up the back nine here but found the journey home more difficult. The latter two both made double-bogey seven at five in second-round 70s that left them one outside the cut.

A stunning second-round 64 propelled French amateur Mathilda Cappeliez, just 15, into a share of second at the Ladies European Tour's Lalla Meryem Cup at Agadir's Golf de l'Ocean, where Ireland and Ulster girls star Olivia Mehaffey (16) also made the cut.

Ireland's Rebecca Codd shared 14th on two-under after an even-par 71.


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