Padraig Harrington broke par for the eighth successive round when he opened with a two under 69 in the Deutsche Bank Championship at TPC Boston.
It was a move in the right direction in his bid to keep his FedEx Cup campaign on the road as he moved into the top 70 who will progress to the third play-off event in Chicago next week.
Ranked 80th after The Barclays, Harrington is now projected to move up to 66th as he goes into this afternoon’s second round tied for 27th.
He’s just four strokes behind leader Troy Matteson, who shot a 65 to lead by one from Jerry Kelly, world No 1 Luke Donald, Masters champion Charl Schwartzel and former US PGA winner YE Yang. But he will have been frustrated to let an even better score slip away on his homeward nine at TPC Boston as a pair of bogey sixes in his last nine holes.
Starting at the 10th, Harrington bogeyed the 12th when he overshot the green but then reeled off four birdies in five holes.
He holed a 13 footer at the 14th, a 33-footer at the 15th, a 14 footer at the 16th and then two putted the par-five 18th from 12 feet to turn in 32.
That missed 12 footer for eagle at the 18th was typical of Harrington’s luck on the par-fives in recent years. Last season he complained that he consistently failed to hit a decent lay up and his scoring average on the three-shotters hasn’t improved.
He’s ranked 167th for par-five scoring after 52 rounds this year and 89th in the par-five “birdie or better” statistics with a conversion rate of 41.46 percent compared to leader Steve Stricker’s 53.97 percent.
That said, his numbers appear to be similar to those he record in 2008, when he won two majors. But there is no denying that he lost ground on the field in Boston on Friday.
At the par-five second he hit a wild tee shot, got himself back into postion but then three-putted from 40 feet for a bogey six.
After holing a nice seven footer to save par at the 208-yard third, he birdied the driveable fourth from eight feet, saved par from sand at the fifth and missed a 10-foot birdie chance at the sixth before dropping another shot on a par-five at the 600 yard seventh.
This time he was trapped by cross bunkers 91 yards from the pin and missed from 15 feet for par after bunkering his third.
While Harrington’s two under effort was just enough to move him inside the crucial top-70 in the FedEx Cup standings, Graeme McDowell’s level par 71 saw him slip from 84th to 88th.
The Ulsterman knows that he must finish inside the top 20 on Monday evening to qualify for the third leg of the play-offs but he was never sharp enough in any department as he mixed three birdies with three bogeys.
After following a bogey at the first with birdies at the second and fourth, he bogeyed the fifth of a poor drive and the par-three eighth after running through the green with his recovery pitch from the left rough.
He mixed good par saves with missed chances on the way home and will have been relieved to hole a 10-footer for birdie at the 17th and a nine-footer for his par-five at the last.