Harrington turns major corner

Padraig Harrington turned a major corner with his game to keep his Open hat-trick chase alive at Turnberry.

Now he’s hoping he can become “Harri Putter” and wield the short stick like a magic wand over the weekend.

Flirting with the cut line after racking up five bogeys in his first 13 holes, he brought back memories of Birkdale last year when he hit a sensational five wood to the 17th to set up a vital birdie.

It all added up to a four-over 74 that left Harrington eight shots behind shock leader Steve Marino on three over - just one shot inside the cut.

But the Dubliner reckons that all he needs is a hot run with the putter and he can win the old Claret Jug for the third year in a row.

Believing his slump is a thing of the past and that he's take a big step forward by surviving the first two rounds, Harrington insisted: “I'm hoping I've turned a big corner. The last thing you want to do is be trying to play that back nine holding onto the cut.

“Thankfully, as my career goes on, nobody will be counting how many cuts I made or missed. At the top of the CV list will be three majors at the moment and hopefully more coming up.

“You have to be trying to hold on to winning the tournament and I was thinking I'm eight shots behind. That's not insurmountable on the weekend on a links golf course, especially like this.

“I think the longest putt I holed out there was from two feet. But I'm putting well, the ball is running at the hole and sooner or later it will drop.

“I know I'm running out of holes, 36 holes to go, but if they start dropping I'll shoot some good scores.”

Harrington has spent hours on the range this week working on ironing out the kinks in his swing with his coach Bob Torrance.

Monday was a massive turning point for them and while he frittered away shots on a windy morning when the R&A hid pins in corners, he dug deep into his well of mental strength to keep the dream alive.

Assessing the state of his game, he said: “The only thing good about playing the weekend is that I can win the tournament.

“And the more rounds of golf I play, the better. As I said, I was very happy ball-striking-wise. All I have to do now is trust it a little bit more and it will be right in there.

“Mentally I have been poor enough but from a physical point of view the game is seven or eight out of ten.

“My short game is definitely back up there. So, yes, I think I've turned the corner now, and I'm definitely focused on competing and playing more so than maybe the last couple of months.”

With a 20 mph north-west wind lashing the Ailsa Links, Harrington had to get up and down from sand for his par at the first but soon began to struggle as he headed straight into the wind.

HE missed the fairway at the fifth to drop back to level par for the championship and after surviving a scare when his ball was lost for a time on the seventh, he bogeyed the eighth, ninth and 10th to slip to three over par.

That left him teetering on the cut line and while he claims he wasn’t worried, he must have had a shiver down his spine when he overshot the 13th green from the semi-rough and failed to get up and down.

With holes running out, Harrington’s big chance to ensure his survival came at the downwind, 559-yard 17th

And he made sure he took it by producing a five-wood approach that brought back memories of the eagle he made on the 71st hole at Royal Birkdale last year.

After a perfect five wood off the tee, he faced 268 yards to the pin and almost holed out for an albatross before settling for a two-putt birdie from 25 feet.

At the US PGA last year, he was six shots behind leader JB Holmes with two rounds to play but won by two shots from Sergio Garcia.

Looking at the task ahead, he said: “Eight shots behind isn't great. But hopefully we can improve that on the weekend and make a run.”