Vice squad call boosts Harrington

Padraig Harrington reacts to a missed putt on the 18th in Crans. Picture Eoin Clarke,

Pádraig Harrington gave fair warning that laying down his competitive hat for a week at Gleneagles will not stop him in his battle to regain his old form.

Just 24 hours after being named as one of European Ryder Cup skipper Paul McGinley's five vice captains, the 43-year old equalled his low round of the season when he hit two eagles in a four under 66 — his joint best round of the season — in the Omega European Masters.

Playing partner Richie Ramsay posted a 62 to share the lead on eight-under with Italy's Edoardo Molinari.

But could this Ryder Cup vice captaincy somehow ease some of the pressure on Harrington's shoulders and allow him to play with a tad less intensity than he has in recent months? Coming on the back of five missed cuts in his last seven starts, it's a question worth asking the World No 287.

Gareth Maybin, battling to save his card at 124th in the Race to Dubai, shot a 64 to share third place on six-under to give himself a chance of moving into the crucial Top 110.

"A good finish here definitely would help,"Maybin said. "To achieve that in such a high-quality field would also be very encouraging."

Michael Hoey has never fared too well in Crans but shaking off a cold he shot a 65 that left him tied with Ryder Cup rookies Jamie Donaldson and Victor Dubuisson.

Shane Lowry shot 66 in just his second start since The OPen in July and admitted: "Four under is a good start and I'm looking forward to the next few days."

Peter Lawrie shot 69 as Darren Clarke followed a bad day on the greens with a triple bogey seven at the last for a 73 while Simon Thornton shot 74.