By Brian Keogh

Padraig Harrington become Harri Putter as he scorched to a magical six under par 66 to lead the $6.3 million Wachovia Championship.

The Dubliner, 35, revealed that he was putting terribly and changed the shaft in his trusty two-ball putter before the start at star-studded Quail Hollow.

But he wielded it like a wand as he racked up six birdies and saved par another six times in a bogey free round that feature an amazing 12 single putts.

After taking just 24 putts to lead in the clubhouse, Harrington confessed: "I changed putter this week because I was putting so badly.

"I've got a new putting shaft in my putter but I couldn't even tell you what it is called, it is so new.

"I suppose it is revolutionary and it seemed to work really well today. Once you are putting well you are always going to hole a few.

"And when you are holing putts you are going to hole a few for birdies. But I holed a few for par as well to stop a few bogeys.

"I certainly didn't play my best golf, no question of that. But when you are holing putts it is always going to be a good day."

Darren Clarke is struggling not to miss his fifth cut on the trot after a disappointing four over par 76 that featured 35 putts.

In contrast, Harrington missed six greens in regulation but saved par each time thanks to a series of lengthy putts of between four and 18 feet.

Harrington explained: "That was the thing about the day. I holed a lot of putts out there. I think on every green my putts looked like they were going to go in.

"Six or seven putts were close and I must have holed a dozen out there. It is an awful lot of putts to hole in a round."

The Dubliner started on the back nine and immediately had to work hard to save par at the 11th and 12th with putts of 10 and 18 feet.

But he was soon on fire - racking up six birdies in the space of a 10-hole stretch to scorch into the lead on six under.

A hat-trick of birdies from the 13th saw him turn in 33 with just 12 putts.

But he followed up with further birdies at the second, third and fifth to lead on six under par.

Even then it was not all plain sailing as missed greens at the last two holes forced him to hole a pair of eight footers for par.

With 27 of the world's top 30 in action - including the entire top 10 - Harrington is on course for massive world ranking points if he can pick up his third PGA Tour victory at testing Quail Hollow on Sunday.

He said: "It is a fine golf course. Anybody who comes in here and moans about the golf course doesn't like playing good golf courses. It is all there in front of you.

"It is tough with the firm fairways, I've got to say. I played two years ago when the fairways were softer and it was certainly an easier proposition.

"It is now playing shorter but definitely very difficult to hit those fairways. Somebody who is hitting fairways out there is going to play well."