Padraig Harrington shares a joke with his caddie as he warms up on the driving range in Singapore. Photo Eoin Clarke/www.golffile.ieThe road ahead keeps getting steeper for Padraig Harrington. Stagnant in the world rankings and under pressure just to qualify for the Dubai World Championship and next year’s Ryder Cup team, the genial Dubliner made life even harder for himself when he took 34 putts in an opening 69 in the Barclays Singapore Open.

A two under par score would not normally give cause for concern but Harrington’s effort on the easier Tanjong Course at Sentosa Golf Club left him tied for 54th and seven shots behind co-leaders James Morrison and Edoardo Molinari, who shot 62’s on the shorter of the two courses being used this week.

“I played quite nicely early on. I only missed one green all day,” Harrington said of a round that saw him get to three under after just seven holes. Unfortunately, he played the next 11 in one over.

“I holed two putts – a six footer and a 15 footer – in the round,” said Harrington, who is 74th in the money list and needs to be in the top 60 after the Hong Kong Open in two weeks to qualify for the season-ending bonanza in Dubai.

“You have got to hole more than that. That’s where it’s at.”

Peter LawrieThe best score on the tougher Serapong Course was a six under 65 by Jbe Kruge but his was one of just five in the top 31 on the leaderboard at the end of the day.

Asked if he felt he had gone backwards, Harrington said: “Absolutely. Especially when I was three under after seven holes and doing the right things at that stage and moving nicely forward.

“From that position you should be looking to kick on and move forward and get it to six or near that. If I had done that I would be right in it form the start but I didn’t manage to do that. It wasn’t great after that.”

There was no doubt about where Harrington’s focus was afterwards.

Paul McGinley“Putting. A good bit of putting and maybe some wedges,” he said of his plans for the rest of the day.

Ten Irishmen are in Singapore this week with Shane Lowry and Michael Hoey leading the Irish challenge four under.

Lowry fired an eagle, three birdies and just one bogey in four under 67 on the Tanjong but Hoey’s 67 on the Serapong was more impressive.

Four under with four to play, he bogeyed the 15th and 16th but hit back with birdies at the last two holes to share 23rd place.

Graeme McDowellGraeme McDowell was just a shot further back after a 68 on the same Serapong Course and will now fancy his chances of making a big move up the leaderboard on the shorter track on Friday.

“Solid day at the office,” McDowell tweeted after his round. “The a/c wasn’t working very well though. Hottt out there. 3 under on the tougher track is a nice start.”

The other Irish contender playing the Serapong didn’t fare so well with Asian Tour regular Niall Turner and rookie professional Paul Cutler signing for four over 75’s.

The remaining Irish players were in action on the Tanjong but while Paul McGinley and Peter Lawrie shot three under 68’s and Gareth Maybin a 69, it was a tough day for Damien McGrane.

Ranked 115th in the money list, Maybin is under severe pressure to keep his card but McGrane is not safe yet at 108th and a two over 73 in the opening round of a $6m tournament was not what he had in mind.

Shane LowryThe Meath man could have finished the day tied with world No 11 Phil Mickelson but the left-hander birdied the 15th and 16th to salvage a level par 71.

The 41-year old American was annouced yesterday as the latest member of World Golf Hall of Fame.

“That’ll be fun,” the four-time major winner said. “It’s cool. Yeah, it’s cool. It’s pretty neat to see the names that are in there, to be a part of that. That’s a pretty cool honour.”