Padraig Harrington gave partner JP McManus the credit after a 69 at St Andrews kept his Dunhill Links hopes alive.

The Dubliner - still chasing the Order of Merit title - drove the 357-yard 18th to set up a birdie that left him just three stokes adrift of leader Bradley Dredge on nine under par.

Harrington had opened with a bogey five but a nett birdie by McManus, who now holds the joint lead in the team event, kept him interested right to the finish.

Tied for fourth with Vijay Singh and Simon Dyson, Harrington said: "I lost a little patience in the middle of the round as it was wet and windy and I was struggling to get my wedges close but then it is always nice to finish with a birdie

"I felt good about myself after that but it's been a nice distraction to have amateurs in the field and aside from JP, we have Bill Murray, as well.

"But JP has also been great and when I bogeyed the first, he got a par for a net birdie, so I was actually focussing more on the team score through the middle of the round to keep me going more than anything else.

"That brought me along after a couple of bad shots and whilst you are looking to make the most in the individual, the team keeps you going and it's a lot easier when there is more than one person."

Sundance Kid McManus improved their team scorecard by seven shots with a 62 that left Harrington and the Limerickman at the top of the team standings on 19 under with Johan Edfors' and his partner Mats Andersson.

But the millionaire businessman was just one stroke clear of pal Dermot Desmond, whose eight under par 64 with Robert Karlsson was good enough for a share of second place with Angel Cabrera and his son Federico on 18 under.

McManus and Harrington won the team title in 2002, when Harrington also took the individual tournament - worth €630,566 this year.

And the 16-handicap racehorse owner and business mogul wants to do it again and help to the Dubliner close the €750,000 gap on Order of Merit leader Paul Casey.

McManus said: "It was the highlight of my golfing career when we won here in '02 and there is no doubt about that but the pleasure in winning is not in winning yourself but to be playing with the professional who wins the tournament and that is the real win.

"It would be a hollow victory if you were to win the team event but the pro didn't win the tournament so when we won in '02 it was extra special as Padraig won the individual title."

Welshman Dredge fired a 67 at Carnoustie to lead by two shots on 12 under from Edfors and South African Charl Schwartzel as overnight leader Casey slumped to 11th after a 74 at St Andrews.

On a mixed day for the Irish, Darren Clarke managed just two birdies in a level par 72 at the Home of Golf that left him 141st of the 168 professionals on four over.

But it was an excellent day for Knightsbrook's Damien McGrane as he fired a super 67 at Kingsbarns to move into a share of 18th place on six under and boost his Volvo Masters chances

Out in five under par 31 thanks to an eagle three at the ninth where he hit a five wood to 12 feet, McGrane birdied the 11th to get to six under but bogeyed the 16th after a poor drive.

Gary Murphy was the next best of the Irish on two under par after a 69 at Kingsbarns where Graeme McDowell fired a 71 to join him in 58th place.

But it was another disappointing day for Ryder Cup hero Paul McGinley who could do no better than a level par 72 at St Andrews alongside actor Kyle MacLachlan.

Back in 76th place on one under par alongside Peter Lawrie, who shot 71 at Kingsbarns, McGinley was frustrated with his putting and his score.

McGinley groaned: "I've played well for two days but I am just not scoring. I am not making enough putts and nothing is going my way.

"The game is tough at the moment but I'll keep battling through. One under par for two days is a terrible score the way I have played.

"I can say that it would be nice to put in a low one at Carnoustie tomorrow but I have to do it, it is no use just talking about it."

Ulsterman Michael Hoey doubled the 18th at Carnoustie for a 72 that left him in 99th place on one over and struggling to make tonight's 54-hole cut for the top 60 and ties.