No Sawgrass joy for Harrington

By Brian Keogh

Padraig Harrington's hopes of a Players Championship comeback were dented by a final hole three-putt at Sawgrass.

The Dubliner faced a seven footer on the par five ninth to card a four under par 68 that would have revived his chances.

But the Irish ace knocked his birdie putt three feet past the hole and then missed the return to card a disappointing 70.

At two over par, Harrington looked certain to make the halfway cut with at least a shot to spare.

But he will be kicking himself after missing a three-footer on the last for the second day on the trot.

An opening 76 left him needing a low second round to close a nine-shot gap on overnight leaders Phil Mickelson and Rory Sabbatini

Things were looking good for the world No 11, when he started on the back nine and immediately birdied the par five 11th with a pitch to four feet .

He then drained an 18 footer at the 12th to get back to two over par for the tournament.

But his driving problems caught up with him at the 16th, where he hooked his tee shot into the trees and then three putted from long range for a frustrating bogey.

A two-putt par at the dreaded 17th and a par at the tough 18th left him in good shape heading into the back nine.

And he was positively beaming when he birdied the par five second with a pitch to two feet and then sank a 28 footer at the fifth to get back to one over par.

But he undid a lot of his good work at the par five ninth after putting himself in a great position to close with a birdie.

Spain's Jose Maria Olazabal and American Steve Lowry made the biggest move of the early starters with six under par 66s.

The pair started the day on six over par but were only tied for 18th place on level par as the leaders headed out.

American Sean O'Hair, who was paired with Darren Clarke before the Ulserman withdrew with a hamstring injury on Thursday, carded a 69 to lead in the clubhouse on three under par alongside Aussie Peter Lonard.