Irish plan double whammy

By Brian Keogh

Padraig Harrington and Rory McIlroy plan to shake up the Open and grab Carnoustie by the throat over the weekend.

Harrington three-putted the last for a double bogey and a two-over 73 that left him six shots behind leader Sergio Garcia on level par.

Minutes later, teen sensation McIlroy slipped to a five over par 76 to make the cut on two over.

But neither is giving up the chase for glory and they both plant to get aggressive and take on the Beast in the last two rounds.

Harrington vowed: "There is a lot of golf left in this tournament. Maybe I will go out a little more aggressive now that I am level par.

"If I was two under maybe I would be more defensive. It's probably easier to be aggressive if you are not too far behind but I'd still rather be two under.

"I left a few shots out there and I felt that I could be one or two under par. But level par is a respectable score.”

Overnight star McIlroy could not reproduce his first round fireworks after a round that featured two birdies, five bogeys and a costly double bogey at the 10th.

And like Harrington, he is looking forward to going on the offensive over the weekend and securing an automatic Open return with a top-10 finish

Rory said: "My target is probably a top-10. If I play well and hole a few putts then there is no reason why I can’t qualify for this championship again next year.

"I’m through to the weekend and I’m relieved about that. It was a bit of a struggle today.

"It was a lot tougher than it was yesterday, there are a few flag positions out there that are a bit brutal and the wind is picking up a bit.

"Obviously I didn’t play as well as I did yesterday but I’m happy enough that I’m through to the weekend.

"I had the television cameras following me out there and the support I got out on the course was tremendous and it was nice to play in front of crowds like that.

"I haven’t really played in front of crowds that big before and it was nice to get a taste of that you know.

"The pressure is fine. I think in amateur events the crowds are much closer to you and that adds to the pressure but here the crowds stay a bit further away so it’s not too bad."

Harrington drove the ball poorly but used his short game magic to stand on the 18th tee needing a par four for a level par 71.

But he pushed his drive so far right that he missed the Barry Burn by 20 yards and the 17th fairway as well.

Opting to lay up, he pitched to 20 feet and ran his putt a tantalising three feet past.

Yet after spending age weighing up the return for bogey, he blasted it fully four feet past the hole before gathering himself to rattle in a double bogey six.

Putting a brave face on his cock-up, Harrington insisted that his mistake will make no great difference to him in the general scheme of things.

He said: "I am disappointed but I don't think it will affect the outcome of my tournament this week. I have another 36 holes and what I did today won't really affect too much for the rest of the week."

Harrington's biggest concern is not his increasingly erratic putting but his wayward driving.

Without his favourite driver this week after cracking the graphite shaft at The K Club two weeks ago, he headed for the range yesterday to try and find a new weapon for his weekend assault on the Claret Jug.

He groaned: "I missed a few chances on the way out and you know it is going to be a struggle on the back nine.

"I drove it poorly today. I dropped my shots off my driver. I broke my driver a couple of weeks ago and I haven't found something that I am comfortable with."

McIlroy bogeyed the second, birdied the fourth but then doubled the ninth and bogeyed the 11th and 12th to slip from three under to two over.

But he was pleased to play the last six holes in even par after balancing a birdie at the 14th with a bogey at the 17th.

He said: "After nine holes I was thinking if I could get in at level par that would be good but obviously the back nine is very tough and it’s a tough finish so I was happy enough.

"The Silver Medal wasn't really on my mind. I just went out there to try my best and just play golf and enjoy it. I

"I didn’t really get upset when I hit a bad shot. I’m at the Open and I’m here to enjoy it and that’s what I’m doing."

McIlroy three-putted twice and took 33 putts less than 24 hours after thrilling worldwide audiences with his opening 68.

In bed by ten o'clock, he was up at six am and was glad he didn’t have much time to dwell on his performance.

Fellow Ulsterman Graeme McDowell failed to spark as he hit a 73 to miss the cut on eight over.

He needs a big finish in next week's DeutscheBank in Germany to earn a world top-100 spot and a place in next month's US PGA.

He said: “I wasn’t 100 per cent happy with what I was doing on Wednesday. I was kidding myself a little.

"It’s take 24 hours for me to get rid of the technical mist and find out a little bit myself. It cost me dearly yesterday."