From Brian Keogh in California

Padraig Harrington mounted a thrilling comeback in the Target World Challenge last night with a best of the day, 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 he was a different animal on another perfect day in the picturesque Hidden Valley as he cut a swathe through the field with seven birdies and two bogeys to move up from 13th to a share of eighth place with Colin Montgomerie and David Toms on two under par.

The European number one finished the day six shots behind leader Tiger Woods, who carded an immaculate four under par 68 to lead by one from Stenson, who fired a rollercoaster 71 in the race for the for the $1.35 million winner’s cheque.

But after watching Luke Donald come from six behind going into the final round to win last year, European number one Harrington knows he can still finish the season with a victory.

"I had an awful lot of chances and I could really have gone low today,” Harrington said. “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 better 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 left 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.

Two ahead of Woods starting the day, Stenson doubled his advantage to four strokes with ten holes to play but played the remainder in two over to finish the day on seven under, just one clear of third placed Geoff Ogilvy and Chris DiMarco.