| 10.7°C Dublin

Harrington falls back to earth

IT like was Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde on the greens yesterday at Copperhead as Padraig Harrington followed up on Thursday's sensational first-round 61 at the Transitions Championship with a harrowing 73.

Just 24 hours after shattering the course record with the lowest round of his life, Harrington ran into a brick wall yesterday, the confidence visibly gushing out of the Dubliner's game and, particularly, his putter as he surrendered the tournament lead.

The 40-year-old couldn't miss on Thursday as he chalked up 14 one-putt greens and polished off 10 birdies in a virtuouso performance which hinted that he might soon get back to his old Major-winning ways.

Though Harrington seemed to get the ball rolling once again by sinking a six-footer for a satisfying four at the par-five 11th, that would be the only birdie on his card yesterday.

The ring of confidence that surrounded Harrington on Thursday seemed to vanish just before the turn when he missed from 13 feet for par at 18 and registered his first bogey of the tournament.

As uncertainty crept into his routine, Harrington's paltry total of 22 putts in the first round would soon be exceeded as he took two from seven feet to save par at four, his 13th hole -- by the finish, he'd taken 33 putts yesterday, missing four times from inside 10 feet.

Most worrying of all were his two three-putt bogeys at six and seven. Indeed, the dreaded word 'yip' came to mind as he missed from just 22 inches for par at six.

From the height of achievement on Thursday, Harrington fell back to eight-under, two shy of Jason Dufner's clubhouse lead. After 24 hours in Nirvana, his lengthy battle for confidence on the greens must be begin once again this weekend.

Luke Donald was one shy of the Dubliner in the clubhouse after a steady three-under 68 maintained his bid for the victory, which would propel him past Rory McIlroy and back to the top of the world rankings.

Damien McGrane, meanwhile, is set to play a starring role in European golf's 'Generation Game' on the Costa del Sol this weekend.

A stirring second round 68 propelled the McGrane, 40, into share of second place at the Open de Andalucia, just one shy of surprise leader Eduardo de la Riva, 29, from Barcelona.

Alongside McGrane on seven-under are tournament host Miguel Angel Jimenez, Italy's teenage sensation Matteo Manassero, Tommy Fleetwood, 20, from England and seasoned Spanish pro Pablo Larrazabal.

Kells man McGrane plays in today's third round with Challenge Tour graduate Fleetwood, while Jimenez tees it up at Aloha Golf Club with Manassero, who is 30 years his junior, for the third round in succession.

Jimenez dug deep into his own pockets to keep this E1m tournament going and the charismatic 48-year-old yesterday signalled his intent to win back a chunk of his own cash with a stirring 69.

Like Harrington in Florida, Manassero struggled to reproduce the deft putting touch which underpinned his course record-equalling 64 on Thursday.

The 'Kid', had to be satisfied with a one-over 73 as Jimenez stole the show. The Malaga veteran, bidding this weekend to replace Des Smyth as the oldest winner in European Tour history, ground a great round out of no little adversity.

Though known as 'The Mechanic', he showed the touch of a true artist with one unforgettable flop shot at 17 to save par. It was so expertly played, even his playing companions, Manassero and English 'Tiger-hunter' Robert Rock enthusiastically joined in the applause.

For the second day in succession, McGrane played well enough to suggest last year's lowly 115th place on the Oder of Merit was an aberration. "I played lovely," he said. "As well as I did in the first round.

Michael Hoey, on six-under after back-to-back 69's, and fellow Ulsterman Gareth Maybin, on four-under after his 68, both are well in contention entering the weekend.

Simon Thornton, two-under after his 70, and Shane Lowry, one further back following a second round 72, cannot be ruled out, though a fighting 68 still left Peter Lawrie two outside the cut on two-over.

Open de Andalucia,

Live, Sky Sports 2, 1.0

Transitions Open,

Live, Sky Sports 2, 5.0

Irish Independent