Wednesday 23 October 2019

Harrington returns to form as Kang leads way


Pádraig Harrington. Photo: Reuters
Pádraig Harrington. Photo: Reuters

Brian Keogh

Pádraig Harrington got his second wish of the week when he made an incredible eagle two to ease into the weekend at the AT&T Byron Nelson in breezy Dallas.

Europe's Ryder Cup skipper is pleased the European Tour's Tournament Committee agreed to reduce the number of wild cards from four to three for the 2020 matches at Whistling Straits.

But he's also hoping his Ryder Cup duties don't affect his golf and after spending some time at the Wisconsin venue recently, checking out the team facilities and the golf course, signs of good form are just what he needed heading into next week's US PGA at Bethpage in New York.

"It's going on in the background and of interest at the moment, but hopefully it's not too much of a burden on my golf," Harrington said of his Ryder Cup duties.

The Dubliner (47) holed a 202-yard approach for an eagle two at the 13th on the way to a second successive two-under 69 that left him comfortably inside the projected cut mark.

It was also a good day for West Waterford's Seamus Power, who rattled in six birdies in a four-under 67 that left him a shot further back and on course to make more headway in the FedEx Cup standings.

The former Olympians were still a long way adrift of South Korea's Sung Kang, who shot a bogey-free 10-under 61 to lead by four shots from Matt Every on 16-under, leaving Jordan Spieth scratching his head. But while a second round 67 at Trinity Forest left him near the top of the leaderboard on seven-under, Spieth was nine shots behind the South Korean, who is chasing his maiden win.

Meanwhile, at next week's US PGA at Bethpage Black, Rory McIlroy will play the first two rounds with Phil Mickelson and Jason Day, while Tiger woods has been paired with defending champion Brooks Koepka and Francesco Molinari.

On the European Tour, Matt Wallace went bogey-free for the second day running to lead the Betfred British Masters at Hillside in Southport.

Seeking his fifth European Tour win, his five-under 67 gave him a one-shot lead over Swede Niklas Lemke, England's Ross Fisher, Belgian Thomas Detry and Scot Richie Ramsay on 12-under.

Michael Hoey, who is chasing his sixth win and his first since 2013, is the best of the Irish, seven behind Wallace in 23rd after a 71 with Paul Dunne a shot further back in 34th after a 69.

Gavin Moynihan missed the two-under par cut by five shots after a 72 but Cormac Sharvin made four birdies in his second 69 on the trot to lie just fives shots of the pace in the Prague Golf Challenge.

The Ardglass man shares ninth spot on six-under behind Frenchman Mathieu Fenasse, whose six-under 66 gave him a one-stroke lead over Germany's Jonas Kölbing at Prague City Golf.

The cut fell at level-par, but Portmarnock Links' Robin Dawson and Derry's Ruaidhri McGee have work to do to challenge for a decent pay-day.

Dawson made four bogeys in a one-over 73 to slip back to tied 30th on two-under alongside McGee, who had five birdies in an otherwise scrappy 72.

Darren Clarke, meanwhile, trails halfway leader Steve Stricker by 11 strokes in the first Senior major of the season, the weather-affected Regions Tradition at Greystone in Alabama.

He shot a 71 to share 34th on one-under par as Stricker, the 2020 US Ryder Cup captain, carded an eight-under 64 to lead by two shots at halfway from David Toms on 12-under par.

Leona Maguire, meanwhile, moved up the leaderboard in the Symetra Tour's IOA Invitational, following a weather-beaten 74 with a 69 to trail clubhouse leader Ingrid Gutierrez by seven shots on one-under at Atlanta National Golf Club.

In amateur golf, England's Lily May Humphreys opened with a seven-under 67 to race four clear in Irish Women's Open Stroke Play Championship at County Louth.

  • British Masters, Live, Sky Sports, 12.30pm
  • Byron Nelson, Live, Sky Sports, 6pm

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