For a while it looked as though Pádraig Harrington would miss yet another cut by a shot but he overcame having to watch playing partner John Daly shoot 90 by making a gutsy birdie at the 18th to survive on the limit in the Valspar Championship at Innisbrook.
Suffering from the yips, Daly had 37 putts in the highest round of his PGA Tour career, running up an octuple bogey 12 at the 16th where Harrington three-putted from 70 feet to find himself struggling to avoid the axe for the fifth time in his last six starts.
Another bogey at the 17th appeared to undo all the good work the Dubliner had done in going out in an immaculate, two under 34 on the tough Copperhead Course at Innisbrook following that damaging first round 75.
But he somehow managed to summon up some his famous steel and get up and down from 129 yards from the left rough for a closing birdie three thanks to an 11-foot putt.
A 70 left Harrington outside the projected cut on three over par, where was soon joined in 78th place by Darren Clarke, who made just one birdie in a three over 74.
But Innisbrook is not an easy course and, as the afternoon starters struggled, the Irish pair moved up the leaderboard slowly but surely, ending the day in a 21-man log-jam for 64th place, just enough to make it.
Their first task on Saturday will be to avoid the 54-hole cut after 84 players made it into the weekend.
But while they are 10 strokes behind halfway leader Robert Garrigus, who leads by three strokes on seven under par from Kevin Na after a 66, their experience will tell them that getting back to level par on Saturday may well leave them with a chance of victory on Sunday.
It's imperious for Harrington to win again as he has just four chances to attain the victory that would help him avoid missing the Masters Tournament for the first time since his debut in 2000.
The season has been one of constant disappointments since the three-time major winner — now 147th in the world and without a 72-hole tournament win since 2010 — opened his year with an encouraging share of fifth place in the limited field, no-cut, Volvo Golf Champions at Durban Country Club in South Africa.
Until he birdied the 18th at Copperhead on Friday, he'd missed the cut in four of his five starts on the PGA Tour this year.
The signs are still not all that good given that he's made just five birdies against eight bogeys in his first 36 holes and lies 65th for strokes gained putting despite a more productive performance on the greens in round two.
Starting on the front nine, he holed a five footer for a birdie four at the first, a testing four and a half footer for par at the second and a five footer for par at the fifth to begin the day on a positive note.
When he hit his approach to six feet at the seventh and holed the birdie putt, he was back to two over for the tournament and in with a shout.
Despite Daly's struggles — the former US PGA and Open champion had gone out in 43 by three-putting twice and four-putting once — Harrington soldiered on in a three ball that also featured the unheralded American Brian Stuard.
While he missed the green and bogeyed the par-three 13th, Harrington birdied the par-five 14th by hitting a bunker shot to 11 feet and holing the putt. After tucking a nasty four footer away for par at the 15th, he entered the Snake Pit finishing stretch with the weekend beckoning only to three-putt as Daly was making a mockery of the 16th.
According to AP's Doug Ferguson:
He started with a tee shot into the water. He had about 270 yards to cover the lake after his penalty drop and failed twice. From there, he hit a smother-hook well to the left of the water, only to hit what he described as a shank with his 7-iron well right of the green. He took three chips to reach the green and one-putted for a 12.
Daly's highest score ever was an 18 on the sixth hole of the 1998 Bay Hill Invitational. This wasn't anything like that. For one thing, he hit only three balls in the water.
"I got two good drops and hit a heel-cut 3-wood into the water," he said. "Then I shanked a 7-iron, chili-dipped a chip, it was buried, didn't get that out. ... It was a good 12. I got up-and-down for 12."
Daly would go on to blame his putting for his made day at the office, as Jeff Shain reported for PGATour.com:
“When you’ve got the yips,” he said, “it’s no fun.” ....
“When you play a putt to go left-to-right and push it 3 feet right, you look like an idiot,” he said.
"It's my head, my hands, and I can't stop it. On a short stroke, I get quick. On my normal, long stroke, I come up. Even my legs are moving. I should just go put myself in a straitjacket and try that. I've always been a quick putter, so I should never get the yips. But I got 'em. I got 'em bad."
Back to AP, where Daly explained that there are more important things happening in the world that golfers shooting 90:
"It's my head, my hands, and I can't stop it," Daly said. "On a short stroke, I get quick. On my normal, long stroke, I come up. Even my legs are moving. I should just go put myself in a straitjacket and try that. I've always been a quick putter, so I should never get the yips. But I got 'em. I got 'em bad."
Daly, who has been playing on sponsor exemptions for the last eight years, was not sure where he would play next. He said he was supposed to play in Indonesia in a few weeks for the start of the OneAsia circuit, but the missing Malaysian Airlines flight shook him up.
"I was going to Indonesia, but since they can't find a 777," he said, shaking his head as his voice trailed off. "I ain't about to fly on a plane right now. It's a sick feeling. I'd have to go right there. I canceled it. I said, 'No way I'm getting on a plane to fly overseas.' A 777? One of the nicest planes in existence?
"It's scary," he said. "There are more important things in life than a round of golf. I'm scared to fly. Our world, it's scary what's going on. (Buildings) blowing up in New York. A guy running over people in Austin, Texas? What the hell is going on? It's frightening."
Thankfully for Harrington, he didn't mention the yips.
"I’ve got to call somebody that’s had them,” Daly said in PGATour.com's report.
Harrington had bogeyed the par-three 17th as well, missing the green right and an eight footer for par to go to the last needing a birdie to have even a glimmer of hope.
That he could pull it off would indicate that there's plenty of life in the old dog yet.