As Henrik Stenson and Ian Poulter threathen to make winning the Race to Dubai and even tougher task for Graeme McDowell, Padraig Harrington faces one of the biggest weekend challenges of his season in the Turkish Airlines Open.
While Stenson and Poulter, who sandwich McDowell and Justin Rose at first and fourth in the money list, moved into a four way share for the lead with world No 1 Tiger Woods a shot back after a 63, Harrington slipped further away from the Top 10 finish he needs to seal his place in next week’s DP World Tour Championship.
It’s time to produce the goods and Harrington, who wrote in his tour diary earlier this week that he feels he is “very close to a big week”, needs a couple of low rounds over the weekend after a 70 left him joint 25th and two strokes outside the Top 10 at halfway.
The Race to Dubai “Predictor” table shows that Harrington would fall from 67th to 69th in the money list if the tournament were to end right now.
But with just six shots covering the top 31 on the leaderboard, he’s still a chance of achieving his goal or even winning the tournament and leaping to 50th in the world from 111th.
After yielding three 64s in round one and a nine under 63 to Woods on Friday, the Montgomerie Maxx Royal course is set up for scoring with five par-fives and five par-threes.
Harrington had opened with a bogey free 68 and while he dropped an early shot at the short second, he picked up three shots to turn in 33.
He was within three shots of the lead as he headed down the back nine but as has happened so often in recent times when he pokes his nose even close to the lead, he double bogeyed the 337-yard 15th and did well to finish birdie-birdie.
It was a frustrating day all round for the three Irishmen in action with Damien McGrane’s 73 leaving him tied for 56th on one under and Shane Lowry a bitterly disappointing 74th after a 75.
While his game was not quite 100 percent, Lowry went to Turkey with high hopes of playing his way into top form. That will have to come at the weekend now and an ice cold putter led to seven bogeys and just four birdies in a 34 putt round.
There was a reason why Lowry putted so poorly.
First of all, he was using a Ping putter his caddie was forced to borrow from the pro’s shop after discovering just minutes before his tee time that he had bent the shaft of his regular model in frustration the previous day. Secondly, he had to putt conventionally for the first time in eight years as his putter was so flat he couldn’t get the ball on line using his usual cack-handed style.
As reported by Golf By Tour Miss:
“It was just 10 minutes before my tee time, I whipped my putter out of the bag and it was bent,” he said.
“It was my own fault as I did it yesterday after the round. The head was bent, broke, unusable.
“Dermot and I were on the putting green, nearly eight minutes before we had to tee off and I said to Dermot, I need a putter, and he went and found a putter.
“But then I just couldn’t get the ball in the hole and that was the story of my day really.”
Looking in the bright side when it comes to his charity effort for Movember, Lowry tweeted after his round:
“Well folks bad day at the office but still managed 4 birdies which is €400 for @MovemberIreland hoping for loads more this weekend.”
World No 1 Woods took 10 strokes fewer than Lowry with his 11 under par 63 leaving him one behidn Stenson and Poulter on 11 under.
The American reached the turn in just 30 strokes after five birdies on the front nine, before picking up four more shots on the way in, finishing with back-to-back gains on the 17th and 18th holes.
“I’m right there, and that’s the whole idea,” said Woods. “ I’ve got two more days of hopefully making a lot of birdies.
“I hit a lot of good shots and made some putts, but I missed quite a few putts today that were within ten feet. So it could have been one of those really low, special rounds, but I’ll take it.”
As the European Tour reported:
Despite continuing to struggle with a wrist injury, Stenson followed his opening round of 64 with a bogey free 68, as he looks to extend his advantage at the top of The Race to Dubai in the season’s penultimate event.
In-form Poulter is one of the biggest threats to the Swede, and the pair have a side-bet on who will finish the season as Europe’s Number One, with Stenson offering the Englishman odds of 10-1 on $100 and the loser having to pour drinks for the other one on a night out.
That wager is heating up in Turkey, with Poulter, who finished runner up in last week’s WGC-HSBC Champions, joining his friend on 12 under par following a flawless second round of 66.
“I’m trying my hardest,” Stenson said. “I know he’s not going to back down. He’s not that kind of guy so I’m going to have to keep on making birdies.”
Poulter, who is currently fourth in The Race to Dubai, is thriving on the chase and feels the odds are looking increasingly better for him after four birdies on the back nine.
“I’m right there at the top of the board, and that’s always good fun,” he said. “There are some great names at the top of the board, as well, so it’s certainly going to be a fun weekend.
“Henrik has definitely got fired up this week, whether it was a little side bet or anything else. He’s a great player and he doesn’t need a lot to get fired up, but he obviously is this week.”
Poulter and Stenson were joined at the top of the leaderboard by Frenchman Victor Dubuisson and South African Justin Walters.
US Open Champion Justin Rose, who is third to Stenson on the Race to Dubai, carded a six under par 66 and is four shots back on eight under par along with his Ryder Cup team mate Lee Westwood and Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn.
*** On the PGA Tour, Darren Clarke posted a level par 70 in the second round of the wind-lashed McGladrey Classic to trail clubhouse leader Chris Kirk by seven shots on one-under par.
The 2011 Open champion had four birdies and four bogeys on his card to share 34th place with 18 players still to complete their second rounds at Sea Island’s Seaside Course.
Play was suspended because of darkness for the second day running but Clarke, who played in winds gusting over 30mph, moved up 29 places thanks to his level par effort.
Complete second round scores
132 V Dubuisson (Fra) 67 65; H Stenson (Swe) 64 68; I Poulter (Eng) 66 66; J Walters (RSA) 66 66;
133 T Woods (USA) 70 63;
134 R Sterne (RSA) 69 65;
135 A Cañizares (Esp) 67 68; J Donaldson (Wal) 68 67;
136 P Waring (Eng) 68 68; R Derksen (Ned) 67 69; R Fisher (Eng) 68 68; D Lynn (Eng) 68 68; T Björn (Den) 64 72; J Rose (Eng) 70 66; L Westwood (Eng) 70 66; J Quesne (Fra) 67 69;
137 F Molinari (Ita) 69 68; L Wen-Chong (Chn) 71 66; C Lee (Sco) 69 68; T Jaidee (Tha) 69 68; M Kaymer (Ger) 69 68; G Coetzee (RSA) 66 71; D Fichardt (RSA) 64 73; F Aguilar (Chi) 69 68;
138 P Harrington (Irl) 68 70; B Grace (RSA) 69 69; T Olesen (Den) 66 72; M Fraser (Aus) 67 71; P Larrazábal (Esp) 68 70; C Schwartzel (RSA) 68 70; T Aiken (RSA) 71 67;
139 K Aphibarnrat (Tha) 66 73; R Ramsay (Sco) 70 69; M Kieffer (Ger) 66 73; R Jacquelin (Fra) 67 72; G Mulroy (RSA) 70 69; S Gallacher (Sco) 68 71; M Warren (Sco) 69 70; C Wood (Eng) 69 70; P Casey (Eng) 66 73; P Uihlein (USA) 67 72;
140 T Fleetwood (Eng) 69 71; B Wiesberger (Aut) 68 72; M Manassero (Ita) 70 70; R Cabrera-Bello (Esp) 67 73; D Horsey (Eng) 69 71; S Webster (Eng) 65 75; M Siem (Ger) 69 71;
141 G Havret (Fra) 72 69; N Colsaerts (Bel) 73 68; G Bourdy (Fra) 69 72; R Gonzalez (Arg) 66 75;
142 D Howell (Eng) 70 72; J Blixt (Swe) 68 74; J Luiten (Ned) 72 70;
143 J Hansen (Den) 72 71; D Drysdale (Sco) 70 73; D McGrane (Irl) 70 73; E Pepperell (Eng) 69 74; B Rumford (Aus) 72 71; S Jamieson (Sco) 74 69; E De La Riva (Esp) 70 73; A Noren (Swe) 73 70; R Santos (Por) 68 75;
144 M Madsen (Den) 73 71; M Jiménez (Esp) 73 71; P Lawrie (Sco) 74 70; C Montgomerie (Sco) 72 72;
145 J Parry (Eng) 78 67;
146 S Khan (Eng) 73 73; L Oosthuizen (RSA) 72 74; S Kjeldsen (Den) 69 77; D Willett (Eng) 75 71;
147 S Lowry (Irl) 72 75;
149 G Storm (Eng) 70 79;
150 E Kemaloglu (am) (Tur) 76 74;
154 H Sayin (Tur) 75 79;
157 A Altuntas (am) (Tur) 80 77;