Harrington rips European Tour officials

Padraig Harrington ripped into European Tour officials last night as the Volvo Masters was washed out for the second day in a row at soggy Valderrama,

The Dubliner was upset that the Tour decided to delay the start of the third round until the entire field had finished the weather-delayed second round.

Ready to play again at 10 am after completing a second round 71, Harrington was forced to wait more than four hours before he could begin his third round at 2.10 pm - 11 shots behind Soren Kjeldsen on five-over par.

Needing to finish first or second to win the Order of Merit, Harrington charged through the field to get to within seven shots of leaders Sergio Garcia and Kjelsden on two-over par with three birdies in 11 holes.

But he was frustrated when rain flooded the course in the afternoon and stopped him in his tracks when he was tied for 18th place.

With his chances now fading, Harrington said: “I don’t know why we didn’t play for the four hours this morning. I could have been at the safari with my kids this afternoon.

“I would have been finished by three o’clock and I don’t know why they wasted the four hours. Now they are faced with the situation where they have both nines to play and everybody is out on the golf course.”

As players waited for the entire field to finish before starting their third rounds, Chief Referee John Paramor explained: “Yes, we have an empty course, which may look silly given the circumstances. But it is not quite that simple.

“We are going to need a redraw at some stage if the winner is not to come from the middle for the field. We could have done it today or tomorrow but we felt it more prudent to do it today.

“It this instance, we have the ability to rest the course to do necessary maintenance work, such as a single cut of the fairways and greens and repairing bunkers. The most we could have gained would have been an hour.”

Harrington was tied for 43rd after a disastrous opening 76 and played just 13 holes of his second round in horrendous conditions on Friday when play was suspended due to flooding.

Resuming yesterday morning on five over par with five holes still to play, he scrambled for pars on every hole to card a level par 71 in damp, windless conditions.

After battling through “brutal” weather on Friday while the leaders sat in the clubhouse, he can consider himself unlucky that conditions were almost perfect for the leaders when play resumed yesterday morning and then turned nasty on him later in the day.

Before heading back to his hotel for a two-hour nap after his second round, he said: "I scrambled well but obviously it is very disappointing that the weather is the way it is.

“Everybody seems to be making birdies out there, which obviously wouldn't have been the case yesterday."

Harrington needs the tournament to go 72 holes if he is to have any chance of closing the gap on the leaders and grabbing the top-two finish he needs to steal the Order of Merit title from current leader Robert Karlsson.

But while the Swede is tied for 28th place on five-over, third ranked England’s Lee Westwood is now the danger man.

Lurking just one stroke behind Garcia and Kjeldsen on four under par after six holes of the third round, Westwood can take the Order of Merit if he wins the tournament and Karlsson finishes no better than sixth.

Darren Clarke was just four strokes off the pace at halfway following a second round 69 and while he shanked his approach to the first hole and ran up a double bogey six, he was still just four strokes off the pace on one under par when play was suspended.

Ryder Cup star Graeme McDowell was tied for eighth place on level par after eight holes with Rory McIlroy and Damien McGrane on eight over par.

Peter Lawrie was 12 over and Paul McGInley 15 over and will resume their rounds at 8.30 am today with the leaders due to tee off in the final round at midday local time.