Padraig Harrington shrugged off his pre-event neck problems and a wobbly back nine to keep his FedExCup hot streak going in the BMW Championship at Cog Hill.
Struggling to hit fairways on his back nine, his short game came to the rescue as he kept a bogey off his card and then birdied the last to post a three under par 68 that left him just two strokes behind leaders Rory Sabbatini and Steve Marino in share of fifth place with the likes of Tiger Woods and Geoff Ogilvy.
Concerned before the start that a bad run of holes to lead to him losing the momentum he has built up over the last few weeks, he weathered the storm to grind out the lowest possible score. It was classic Harrington and a truly professional round by a man who is determined to get over the winning line soon.
“In terms of scoring, it was steady, three birdies, no bogeys, great,” Harrington said. “But it was far from steady on the golf course. I was a little bit erratic at times out there. I struggled to focus, I suppose. So it needs to be better over the next three days. I won't get away with what I got away with today.
“I've been in contention for a few weeks, and I can think it was two things. Obviously I'm a little bit tired, and secondly, I think I was maybe pushing a little bit too hard, maybe trying a little bit too hard and maybe getting on my back a little bit too much. I need to relax a little bit and let it happen more.
“There's no doubt I got lucky today. I wouldn't want to play like that for the next three days. I'd settle for scoring like that, but I know I've got to play a little bit better over the next three days. You don't always get away with it. Today was a lot of hard work, and I got the very most out of the round, which is good. It keeps me in there, and that's very positive. But I hope I play a little bit better over the next three days, keep myself under less pressure let's say.
“A birdie on the last is always nice, especially after the round I had. I made a number of good pars coming into the last, so it just seemed like a little bit of a steal to shoot 68.The way I played today is not the way I want to play for the next three days. Scoring-wise, yes, I'd be happy to do that, but I've got to play a little bit better. So maybe I'm not necessarily thinking about this round as being the groundwork for the next three days.”
Harrington is seventh in the FedExCup rankings and knows that if he can make the top five after this week’s event, he can win the $10m bonus by claiming the Tour Championship.
The points are re-set on Sunday and but he’s determined not to get “sucked into the hype of the FedExCup.
He said: “To win the Fed Ex cup you have to play well in the play-offs, so far I have had two good weeks but to have a chance of winning it I have to keep that run going. As always with me I am here to try and give myself a chance of winning the tournament come Sunday afternoon. If I can get into contention again then I know that I am doing the right things and if I keep doing them I will win one. The key is to keep my mind on this week and forget about the last event and what could or couldn’t happen.”