Sport Golf

Saturday 16 December 2017

Harrington falls off the pace after dream start

Mark White

PADRAIG Harrington is four shots off the pace in the Portugal Masters after a second round of four-under-par 67, which promised so much more.

It looked like being the Dubliner's day at Oceanico Victoria when he went two clear with six birdies in his first 11 holes.

But in a real mixed bag of a finish, the 41-year-old, without a European Tour victory for over four years, had a double bogey, two more birdies and two bogeys, both of those coming when he three-putted, which left him on 136.

"It was all going nicely... but I'm a bit upset about making two three-putts at the end," said Harrington, who has not won a regular Tour event since the 2008 US PGA Championship.

Ross Fisher overcame an injury scare to move a step closer to his fifth European Tour title by also shooting 67, which was enough to put him three shots clear of Scot Stephen Gallacher, with whom he shared the overnight lead, and Austrian Bernd Wiesberger.


The 31-year-old Englishman slipped walking off the first tee and hurt his foot, fearing for a while he might have to withdraw.

But after a physio was called for and strapping applied, Fisher battled on and, thanks in large part to a 22-foot eagle putt on the long 17th, added a 67 to his opening 65.

"I didn't think anything of it at first and for two or three holes it was okay, but then it started to get really sore," Fisher said.

"The physio told me I was not doing any damage by playing on. It was uncomfortable for a while, I was feeling it again at the end and I'm just very relieved to get through.

"To be leading is very, very pleasing. It was really difficult to get through the ball and it made it quite challenging to pick the right club.

"My balance was not very good, but I tried to grind it out and fortunately I came through with a decent score."

Fisher last tasted success at the Irish Open two years ago, a victory which helped to secure him a Ryder Cup debut at Celtic Manor.

Since partnering Harrington to two wins against the Americans, however, he has managed only one top-five finish and finds himself down at 140th in the world.

Wiesberger, twice a winner this season, stormed into a share of second place with a near-flawless 65, which featured five birdies and an eagle two at the 315-yard 15th, his sixth.

The Vienna golfer's lone dropped shot came at the difficult seventh, where his drive picked up mud and his approach finished in the greenside bunker.

Tied with Wiesberger for second, Gallacher, who has yet to have a bogey, is seeking only his second victory in nearly 400 Tour events.

Clara's Shane Lowry had a second-round score of 70 and that swa him drop two places to a share of sixth on five under par.

Damien McGrane and Peter Lawrie both enjoyed superb days on the Portuguese course to leap up the leaderboard.

McGrane's 69 has him tied for 16th position, up 17 places, while Lawrie's impressive 67 moved him up 66 places and into a tie for 25th on two-under-par.

Michael Hoey dropped off the pace with a second-round 72, which left him on one over par.

Darren Clarke, Simon Thornton and Gareth Maybin all missed the cut.

Clarke shot a 78, which left him six over par for the tournament, level with Thornton, who scored a second-round 72.

Maybin finished two over par after a 75. That left him just one shot off the cut.

Portugal Masters,

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Irish Independent

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