Wednesday 21 March 2018

Harrington figures out how to look after No 1

Bernie McGuire in Shanghai

The qualified accountant in Padraig Harrington was clearly to the fore when the triple-Major winner pondered the thought of moving to No 1 in the world.

Working on the principle of one full world-ranking point for a victory, Harrington's got his figures right in saying if he won his next four tournaments, he would move to the top of the rankings

That's the scenario given the bunched nature of the rankings at present, with just 4.30 ranking points covering new world No 1 Lee Westwood and Harrington at No 19.

The Dubliner spoke of a long-held goal after eagling his last hole on day two of the HSBC Champions event in Shanghai. His five-iron from 196 yards to 12-feet for an eagle three in a round of 70, moved Harrington into a share of ninth at four-under-par and five strokes behind leader Francesco Molinari.

Molinari added a 70 to his opening 65 to move to nine-under-par, one clear of Westwood (70), with three players -- Scotland's Richie Ramsay (68) and the South African pair of Ernie Els (65) and Jaco Van Zyl (66) -- in third place at seven-under.

Harrington shares ninth spot with eight others, including Phil Mickelson (71), Ian Poulter (70) and Tiger Woods, who bogeyed three of four holes mid-round in a 72.

Before eagling the last, Harrington had recorded three birdies, including a lob-wedge gem from 124 yards out to just six inches at the 16th. "It was nice to eagle the last, but to be honest, it was a pretty similar round to Thursday with a lot of missed chances," he said. "I feel my golf game is pretty close, but I'm just not getting it quite right.


"But with another week playing like this, and if I'm playing well enough on the greens, I would be right up there and in the mix. So, I am really happy as I am really well on top of where my game is at. I only see good stuff going forward and winning last month has been a big boost to me."

Harrington's upbeat demeanour continued when the closely packed nature of the world rankings was raised. "It may seem strange, but now that I am 19th in the world, I am actually closer to being No 1 than when I was ranked No 3," he said. "When I was No 3, I was 12 tournament wins away from No 1, but now that I am No 19, I'm only four wins away from No 1. That's on the understanding that you receive one point for each win, so that makes what is happening now, with the make-up of the rankings, pretty exciting."

Rory McIlroy is two shots behind Harrington after a pair of 71s after a second day when the young Ulsterman had to take three penalty shots in his round. He was two-under when his drive ended up against a tree at the 10th, forcing him to take a penalty drop on route to bogey. He found the water with his drive at the 14th for a second bogey, but managed to save par at the last, despite his five-iron second landing three-feet short of the green and his ball rolling back into the water.

"Despite having three penalty shots, I feel as though this is the best I have been playing for some time," he said. "I just need to get a bit of momentum going."

Graeme McDowell heads into the weekend sharing 47th spot at one-over-par. "I am playing a lot more positive. I am hitting a lot more fairways and a lot of quality iron shots," he said. "But playing with Tiger and Ernie certainly created a lot of intensity. I've really enjoyed playing with them."

HSBC Champions Event,

Live, Sky Sports 1, 10.0am

Irish Independent

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