Tuesday 23 January 2018

VIDEO: 'I won't have the luxury of any more bad runs' - Padraig Harrington on Irish Open blip

Three-time major winner Padraig Harrington was frustrated not to have put himself in a commanding position to win a second Irish Open title at a windswept Royal County Down on Friday.

Former champion Harrington predicted on Wednesday that an Irish player would lift the trophy on Sunday, with world number one Rory McIlroy seemingly the most likely contender.

But while McIlroy faced an uphill battle this afternoon to avoid a third straight cut in the event after crashing to an opening 80, Harrington added a 73 to his opening 67 to lie one shot off the early clubhouse lead.

Harrington briefly enjoyed a five-shot advantage when he followed six straight pars with birdies on the 16th and 17th - having started on the 10th - and picked up another shot on the first, but played the remaining eight holes in five over par.

"I'm pleased to be in contention but I would have preferred to be seven or eight under par and in a good position to move away from the field," the 43-year-old Dubliner said.

"I'm now in a position where I need to play well over the weekend and not have anything go against me. There will be a lot of people who just make the cut who will think they can win now that I've come back to the pack.

"It will be a tougher weekend and I won't have the luxury of any more bad runs."

Bernd Wiesberger had produced the best round of the day to move top of the leaderboard, the Austrian covering the back nine in 31 with three birdies and an eagle and eventually signing for a 67.

And Shane Lowry's round of 74 was almost as impressive considering the 2009 champion broke his putter on the third hole of the day and putted with a wedge for the last 15, which he covered in two over par to be four over for the tournament.

Here is Lowry draining a birdie with his wedge from 20ft.

"I'm not proud of myself and I apologised to the lads (playing partners Francesco Molinari and Ernie Els) at the end," Lowry said. "It's not something you want the kids watching to see.

"I'm trying so hard and I got frustrated. The 12th is an easy par five, I missed from two feet for par and stupidly hit my putter off a metal fence post. I don't deserve to make the cut doing something like that but I'm a passionate player and wear my heart on my sleeve. It's not the first club I've broken and it won't be the last."

Scotland's Richie Ramsay threatened to take over at the top of the leaderboard when he reached four under par with five holes remaining, but after saving par on the seventh and eighth, bogeyed the ninth and had to settle for a superb 67 to join Wiesberger in the lead.

"You have to hit it straight out there and that's a strength of my game," said Ramsay, who won his third European Tour title in Morocco earlier this season. "I know how to play links golf, being brought up at Royal Aberdeen, and I was coming into a little form.

"You just need to stay patient and enjoy the challenge. When you miss a green it's something you should enjoy, not something you should dread."

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