Harrington keeps up positive vibes with 66 in Sony Open; McDowell forced to battle

Harrington keeps up positive vibes with 66 in Sony Open; McDowell forced to battle
Pádraig Harrington

Pádraig Harrington

Pádraig Harrington's positive start to 2016 continued in Honolulu when he opening with a four under par 66 in the Sony Open at Waialae Country Club.

The 44-year old claimed his first top 10 finish for 10 months in the Hyundai Tournament of Champions on Maui last week, taking a share of sixth place, albeit it 13 strokes behind runaway winner Jordan Spieth.

Ranked 120th in the world, he needs a win or a handful of big finishes, to qualify for the Masters and boost what he admitted over the winter were his slim chances of making Darren Clarke's Ryder Cup team.


While his odds are lengthening with each passing season, he cannot be dismissed as a major championship threat  having led The Open after 59 holes last year before a lost ball at the 60th resulted in a dispiriting slide to 20th place.

His good golf is still good enough but it remains to be seen if he can get his game to a consistently high level again — the benchmark when it comes to regularly getting into contention for golf's major titles.

His putting, much improved over the past 18 months, is still liable to fail, as he showed when (according to Shotlink) he missed a two footer for par at the opening hole last night. 

After that early mistake, Harrington kept the errors off his card for the remainder of the day, clocking up just 26 putts in a five-birdie round for a share of 20th place.

To avoid more bogeys he had to pull off some trademark escapes, such as a 15 footer for par at the 16th — a hooked drive forced him to get up and down from the left rough for his four — or the par-three 17th, where he chipped to six feet and holed the putt.

He's four shots off the pace set by veteran Vijay Singh, Ricky Barnes, Kevin Kisner, Brandt Snedeker and Morgan Hoffman with seven under par 63s.

Graeme McDowell, 57th in the world following his 29th place finish last week, opened with a level par 70 to find himself tied for 91st.

Starting on the back nine, the Rathmore player had an average day off the tee and dropped early shots at the 14th and 17th before a two putt birdie at the par-five 18th and a chip in from 39 yards at the first got him back to level.

After following four battling pars with a three-putt bogey from just over 50 feet at the par-three seventh, McDowell got up and down from 52 yards for birdie at the ninth, where he holed a 10 footer.