Padraig Harrington continues to experiment with his glasses in a bid to find his putting touch but still has both eyes firmly fixed on a special St Patrick’s Day celebration in Bangkok on Sunday.
The 41-year old Dubliner carded six birdies in an immaculate, six under par 66 to go into the last two rounds of the $1m Thailand Open just two strokes behind Australia’s Scott Strange.
“These glasses are pair number five,” Harrington told the OneAsia Tour website after he finished his day tied for fifth on 11 under par. “I also have six and seven with me this week, but pair number five seems to be the one making it at the moment.
“They’re all different frames and different lenses. These are a little bit shorter and the screw is a bit long, but they seem to be winning.”
The highest ranked player in the field at world No 54, Harrington is bidding for his first 72-hole tournament victory since he lifted the Iskandar Johor Open in Indonesia two years and four months ago.
But the wait for a win will go on for European Ryder Cup skipper Paul McGinley, who was forced to retire after just six holes due to lower back pain.
“It’s a recurrence of the problem I had late last year and it’s all related to my knee,” McGinley said.
Tournament leader Strange, winner of OneAsia’s first tournament five years ago, shot a seven-under par 65 to grab the clubhouse lead after a rain-interrupted second-round at Thana City Golf & Sports Club.
Winner of the Volvo China Open in 2009 when he also claimed OneAsia’s first Order of Merit title, went one better than his opening round to lead on 13 under par at the 6,930-yard Greg Norman-design from Japan’s Azuma Yano (67, 65), Brazilian Lucas Lee (65, 67), and Australian Terry Pilkadaris (68, 64).
Defending champion Chris Wood (67, 66), Harrington (67, 66), Koreans Hwang Jung-gon (65, 68), Lee Kyoung-hoon (67, 66) and Cho Min-gyu (65,68) and Thailand’s Thanyakon Khrongpha (70, 63) are tied for fifth.
The second round will resume on Saturday with 36 players still to finish and a cut hovering around minus five.
Stakes are high as this event and the upcoming Enjoy Jakarta Indonesia PGA Championship from March 28-31 are co-sanctioned by the Japan Golf Tour Organisation and earnings count to both Orders of Merit.
Strange, who lost his European Tour card last year, credited the lifestyle change for allowing him to spend more time with his family, and he relished the opportunity to play closer to home on OneAsia and the Japan Tour.
“A few things have changed in my life,” he said. “I’m not playing as much overseas, and we’ve got another daughter so I’m trying to be home a bit more. The mind is relaxed and refreshed.
“I think the Japanese Tour is a great fit, especially for family life in Australia. You’re not flying to Europe for six or seven months of the year and then coming back, so if I’m fortunate enough to win this week, I’ll be in Japan and that would be great.”
Defending champion Wood said he battled tiredness midway through his second round, but a glance at the scores was all it took to shake him out of his lethargy.
“I was looking at the leader board and using that as motivation, because you’ve obviously got someone like Harrington, who’ll take some chasing, but all the top players on the Japan and OneAsia Tours as well,” he said.
The round of the day belonged to Thai youngster Thanyakon, who equalled the course record 63 set by Welshman Ian Woosnam during the Johnnie Walker Super Tour in 1996.
“I hit it close all day as it is a fairly easy course,” said the 22-year-old, who only turned pro two years ago but has won twice on the ASEAN PGA Tour.
“I am starting to think about winning the tournament now as there are going to be a lot of low scores and I have to be aggressive.”