Padraig Harrington mounted a thrilling comeback in the Target World Challenge last night with a sensational five under par 67 at sun-splashed Sherwood Country Club.

The Dubliner was bitterly disappointed to trail first round leader Henrik Stenson by nine shots after a making a string of mental errors in an opening round of 75.

But scorched through the field with seven birdies and two bogeys to haul himself back into contention for the $1.35 million winner’s cheque in his last event of the season.

At two under par, Harrington finished his round six shots behind co-leaders Henrik Stenson and Tiger Woods, who still had three holes to play.

But after watching Luke Donald come from six behind in the final round to win last year, he knows he can still finish the season with a victory.

He said: "I had an awful lot of chances and I could really have gone low today.

"Five under gets be somewhat back in there and with the weather to be blustery tomorrow, it gives me a chance going into the weekend.

"This is a treacherous golf course. You can make double or birdie on some of those par fives. If you are leading there is a lot of danger but if you are chasing you can only see flags , birdies and eagles and you can make some good numbers.

"I definitely could have been three or four shots today and it was a pity about the two careless errors there at the end.

"I missed a few short putts from six or eight feet and could have been a bit more committed on my routine."

The world number seven showed his intent when he rifled his approach to just 12 inches at the opening hole to get back to two over par and while he failed to hole three good birdie chances at the fourth, fifth and sixth, he soon moved up a gear.

At the ninth he drilled a mid-iron to 18 feet and drained the putt up the hill to turn in two under par 34 and start a run of three birdies on the trot and four in the space of of five holes.

Beaming as he left the green, the popular Irish star birdied the 10th and par-five 11th to get to four under for the day and then picked up another birdie at the par five 13th to get within six strokes of leader Stenson.

A bogey at the 14th was only a minor hiccup for the Dubliner and his reply was impressive as he carried the hazard by inches with his seven-iron tee shot at the 186-yard 15th and holed from six feet for birdie.

A drive and a four iron put him on the 537-yard 16th in two and two-putts from 40 feet put the Irishman six under for the day playing the 18th.

But he drove into the trees on the right and dropped a shot after being forced to lay up well short of the green and had to hole a tricky five footer for bogey.

Stenson was four clear of Woods after nine holes but was soon level at the top with Woods, when he followed an eagle at the 11th with a double bogey at the short 12th and a bogey at the 14th.

The big-hitting Swede was not overawed by playing partner Woods as he went to the turn in 34 to go two shots clear of the tournament host and fiery New Yorker Chris Di Marco.

But he soon felt the heat of the world No 1 as Woods holed a 40 footer at the ninth and a 50 footer at the 10th to get to within one.

Stenson replied with an eagle three at the 11th to go three ahead again but a double bogey at the 12th and a bogey at the 14th left him one behind before he bounced back with a birdie at the 15th to tie Woods on eight under par