By Brian Keogh
Philip Walton wants to complete a dream week and rekindle his flagging desire to play the game by battling Padraig Harrington for his fifth Irish PGA title at the European Club.
The 46-year old Ryder Cup hero has been in the golfing doldrums since he lost his tour card in 1999 and confessed yesterday that he hasn’t enjoyed his profession since he holed the winning putt for Europe at Oak Hill 14 years ago.
Two rounds of 73 gave Walton a share of the clubhouse lead with Clontarf’s Eamonn Brady and Greenore’s Robert Giles on four-over par.
And he’s hoping for a final round showdown with Open champion Harrington tomorrow will give him the desire to kick start his career again.
Walton said: “I’d love to have a battle with Padraig over the week-end. It would be good for next week at Birkdale. It would tune me up and in fact would be good for both of us.
“I would love to play with him on the last day, to be in there with him. No, not to compare my game with him. I play my own game. But I rate him highly. He’s tough in every way. A real tough gun.”
After Wednesday’s weather delays, Harrington was one of the later starters yesterday but remained very much in the hunt for his fifth Irish PGA title on four-over par after six holes.
A final round showdown between two of Dublin’s favourite golfing sons would be a dream scenario and Walton believes it could be just what he needs to regain his desire and ambition.
“I miss the cut and thrust of the championships,” Walton said. “Think of Brendan McGovern last year here last year. I’d say he got tingly playing Padraig and going to a play-off. I miss that tingle. I’d say the last time I had it was in the Ryder Cup.”
Clontarf professional Brady hit rounds of 74 and 72 alongside Walton make it a three-way tie for the early clubhouse lead with Giles on four over par after a pair of 73s.
With the start of the second round delayed by more than three hours because of Wednesday’s fog delays, Harrington was among the later starters.
The Open champion double bogeyed his second hole, the 11th, to go to six over par, but birdied the 13th and 15th to get back to four over par with light running out.
Ladbrokes.com Irish PGA Championship (Par 71)
Rd 2 clubhouse Scores:
146 – E Brady (Clontarf) 74,72; P Walton (Unattached) 73,73; R Giles (Greenore) 73,73;
149 – M Collins (Mallow DR) 72,77;
150 – G Robinson (Coollattin) 77,73; J Dignam (Slade Valley) 78,72;
151 – W O’Callaghan (Carrighdoun GR) 75,76; D Mooney (Nevada Bobs) 80,71;
152 – D Mortimer (Team Ireland) 74,78; D Higgins (Waterville) 80,72;
153 – P Martin (Riverside Academy) 79,74;
154 – G Lunney (Naas) 76,78; S Thornton (Royal Co Down) 77,77;
155 – G Burke (Curragh) 78,77;
156 – K McNeill (Co Sligo) 75,81; C McVitty (Bundoran) 78,78; T Higgins (TH Golf) 75,81;
157 – J Bolger (Kilkenny) 77,80;
158 – D McNamara (Portmarnock) 82,76; M McTernan (Co Sligo) 80,78; P Jones (Coollattin) 78,80;
159 – DP Jones (Royal Portrush) 82,77; E O’Connor (Kilkenny) 71,88; J Dwyer (Ashbourne) 78,81;
160 – B Kerley (Greenlife GR) 86,74; M Sludds (Enniscorthy) 82,78;
161 – P Hanna (Fortwilliam) 81,80;
162 – F Dwyer (Celbridge) 82,80; J Roche (Gorey DR) 76,86; B McDermott (Golf Academy) 75,87; G Wardlow (Dunmurry) 84,78; G Loughrey (Roganstown) 86,76;
163 – W Noble (Co Cavan) 81,82; L Owens (Killiney) 84,79; P McGuirk (Co Louth) 81,82;
164 – M Allan (Leopardstown Golf Ctr) 81,83; L Mulligan (South Co) 84,80; G Chambers (Portadown) 87,77; R Brady (Headfort) 85,79; P Stevenson (Portadown) 83,81;
165 – M O’Boyle (Heath) 84,81; G McLean (Carlow GR) 81,84;
166 – M Dixon (K Club) 87,79; K McGivern (Kelly’s G Ctr) 82,84; P McClelland (Portadown) 84,82;
168 – L Bowler (Wexford) 82,86;
170 – D Carroll (Seapoint) 86,84;
171 – G Spring (Unattached) 82,89;
173 – K McGrath (Birr Golf Shop & DR), 80,93;
174 – L Owens (Royal Dublin) 84,90;
175 – B Hamill (BH Academy) 89,86;
176 – E Doyle (Heritage) 89,87; S Hayes (Rathsallagh) 93,83;
NR – D Byrne (Longford DR) 85,NR;