Padraig Harrington eagled the last to move within five strokes of leader Francesco Molinari in the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai.

But there’s something else that interests him as much as grabbing his second win of the year and that’s the race to become world No 1.

An average of just 4.29 world ranking points separates world No 19 Harrington from Lee Westwood, which a far cry from the way things stood in August 2008.

When Harrington claimed his third major by winning the US PGA at Oakland Hills, he went to a career high of third in the world but still trailed Tiger Woods by 10.55 points with Woods’ total of 18.63 points almost double that of world No 2 Phil Mickelson.

In fact, the points difference between Woods and Mickelson at that time was greater than the difference between the left handed world No 2 and the world No 110, Markus Brier.

“It may seem strange,” Harrington told reporters in China, “but now that I am 19th in the world I am actually closer to being No 1 than when I was ranked No 3.”

Two years ago he would have needed 12 wins to reach No 1. Now he needs “only” four. The other big difference is that there are 17 players ahead of him with an even better chance of becoming No 1.

They included world No 9 Rory McIlroy, seven off the pace in China after a second successive 71, and US Open champion Graeme McDowell, whose 71 left him 10 behind leader Molinari at halfway.