Hot finish offers Harrington hope in Texas

Pádraig Harrington birdied his last two holes to turn what looked like another frustrating day into just his sixth sub-70 score from 35 rounds this season in the HP Byron Nelson Classic.

A two under 68 left the three-time major winner tied for 13th at the TPC Four Seasons Resort, just three shots behind leader Peter Hanson.

His round was a reminder of something he said in Dublin just last week: "I am waiting for the right things to fall in place and when they do fall in place it is happy days and everything is forgotten." 

Could this be the round that turns it all around? Moving away from the cut line has been almost impossible for the 42-year old this season but he knows that one day, he'll get a break and momentum will turn.

"I can’t get away from having a nice relaxed run in a week. You can have a top 10 having 66 on the last day, get a pat on back and a 'well done.' I am not even doing that. I am the guy sitting there looking over my shoulder all the time. But this changes. And when it changes I will get two years out of a good run, and it will happy days. All will be forgotten and we will wonder whatever happened."

This theory depends on a revival in his putting form and bar two misses inside five feet, it was generally good in Irving, just outside Dallas last night as he used the blade just 28 times.

He got off to a great start, picking up three shots in his first seven holes to lie just a couple of shots off the lead. All looked good before four bogeys in an eight-hole stretch in the middle of his round raised alarm bells. This time, instead of fading, he finished in a blaze of glory with a pair of birdie threes.

Starting on the back nine, a 74-yard approach to four feet set up a three at the 11th before he rolled home a 33-footer at the 14th and a six footer at the par-five 16th to get to three under par.

He paid the price for coming up well short at the par-three 17th, missing a nine footer after a decent pitch before getting up and down from over the 18th green to turn in 33.

Another bogey at the first, where he missed a four-footer for par, three-putting from close to 50 feet was exactly what he didn't need.

But whole he hit back straight away by holing a 22 footer at the 221 yard second to move up to joint ninth behind clubhouse leader Marc Leishman back to back bogeys at the fifth and sixth brought back memories of Quail Hollow where he went from the top 10 to the cut line in the blink of an eye on went on to miss out comfortably on Friday.

Having missed the green at the fifth before failing with a five footer for par after a poor drive at the sixth to give two shots back, it looked as though Harrington's struggle for momentum this season would continue.

This time he went the other way, firing a 167-yard approach to seven feet at the eighth and a 140-yard second to six feet at the ninth to come home in level par.

Having tidied up nicely around the green to take just 13 putts on his outward nine, Harrington had just 15 on the back nine and yet still lost ground to the field.

Some straight hitting off the tee will give him confidence for round two and the chase of Hanson, whose 65 gave him a one-shot lead over Marc Leishman of Australia, New Zealander TIm Wilkinson and former world No 1 David Duval, who is threatening to give up the game if he has to rely on sponsors' invitations again next season.