Top-notch Harrington hits groove
HE didn't quite get within touching distance of President Barack Obama at the White House on Wednesday but Padraig Harrington installed himself as early leader in the clubhouse at Innisbrook yesterday with a superlative second- round 65, his best of the season so far.
Despite playing just one practice round on the Copperhead, Harrington displayed phenomenal aggression as he completed 36 holes of his first Transitions Championship in eight-under, a top-notch performance which suggests he'll be one of Tiger's hottest rivals at next month's US Masters.
Without a win on Tour since completing sensational back-to-back victories at the British Open and US PGA Championships in the summer of 2008, Harrington is once again performing with panache and authority.
And he's looking forward with confidence to the weekend in Fort Lauderdale. "I'm capable of winning in the form I'm in," he said.
"Am I in my best form? No. Am I getting there? Yes. I'm kind of in the form that I was in at the end of last year. Let's say I'm happy I've got another weekend of golf here and another tournament before Augusta (Houston Open the weekend after next)."
"I haven't won in a while, so a result would be nice, but it's more about putting yourself right up there in competition and testing yourself."
Harrington then underlined how strong and clear that focus is at present. "I'm pretty much in the midst of playing golf at the moment and not too worried about my technique." Now that's a marked difference from the first six months of 2009, when he became obsessed with his swing.
With six birdies on his card and just one blot (a bogey at the demanding par-four sixth), Harrington was understandably pleased. "It's my lowest score of the year, so I'm happy with that.
"Yeah, I felt quite good. When I got it in position, I hit a lot of really nice iron shots. I got a few breaks as well during the round.
"I'd like to have known the golf course more. I think if I had played this tournament last year or the year before, obviously, I think it would be reasonable to take a day off as I did on Wednesday and still compete without any adverse affects."
Even the chance of being drawn once again with Woods for the first two rounds at Augusta next month doesn't cost Harrington a thought, despite all the hullabaloo over Tiger's return.
"If you were going to choose a golf course for Tiger's first tournament back, Augusta would be the place. So I for one would be quite comfortable if I got drawn with Tiger the first two rounds at the Masters," said Harrington.
Harrington led by one from Ryder Cup rival Jim Furyk (68), big-hitting American Bubba Watson (65), Sweden's Carl Pettersson (68), and defending champion Retief Goosen (68).
Ten were within three of the lead, including David Toms, five-under after a bogey-free 63.
Ross Fisher was four-under after yesterday's 71, one better than Luke Donald (68), while Ian Poulter, four-over after a second successive 73, missed the cut.
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