Padraig Harrington has made a fine start in The Barclays. Picture by golffile.iePadraig Harrington made a flying start to his bid for the $10m FedEx Cup in the weather-delayed Barclays at rain-softened Plainfield Country Club in Edison, New Jersey.

The Dubliner appears to have had a eureka moment in the town where Thomas Edison invented the lighbulb, firing four birdies in an immaculate, opening 11 holes to get to within three shots of the lead in the first  play-off event.

Having qualified for the play-offs by the skin of his teeth - 124th of the 125 who progressed from the regular season points race following last week’s Wyndham Championship - the world No 75 had to wait until late on Thursday afternoon to begin his first round in an event that is under threat from the imminent arrival of Hurricane Irene.

As Graeme McDowell played 13 holes in one over before darkness fell, Harrington got off to an ideal start, holing an eight footer at the opening hole and a seven footer at the 360-yard fourth for birdies to get right into the thick of things.

Graeme McDowell. Picture Fran Caffrey www.golffile.ieAnother birdie at the par three sixth, where he hit a 157-yard approach to just four feet, sent him scorching up the leaderboard before he got up and down from 70 yard for par at the next having driven into a fairway trap.

While he missed birdie chances from five feet at the 480-yard eighth and 10 feet at the 10th, he holed a 14 footer at the 148-yard 11th to get to four under par before darkness called a halt to proceedings after he had laid up perfectly at the par-five 12th.

Harrison Frazar set the clubhouse target at seven under par with a superb 64 to lead by a shot from Vijay Singh and Jonathan Byrd.

But the American’s lead was in danger from a host of players who must return to the course to finish their opening rounds today despite the looming threat of Hurricane Irene, which could prevent organisers from completing 72 holes.

Defending champion Matt Kuchar is tied for the lead after 16 holes with William McGirt - the 125th of the 125 qualifiers - also on seven under after 11 holes.

Harrington was projected to move up from 124th to 86th in the FedEx Cup standings, well inside the top 100 who qualify for next week’s Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston.

However, Graeme McDowell was going the other way and projected to miss out in 108th place after playing his first 13 holes in one over par.

The 2010 US Open champion bogeyed the par-three third when he failed to get up and down from greenside sand, birdied the par-five fifth from 15 feet before taking three to get down from the back of the ninth to turn in one over.

However, he overshot the par three 11th and bogeyed to slip to two over before pulling a shot back with a 12 footer at the par-five 12th.