Paddy last — Harrington makes cut thanks to late birdie
Pádraig Harrington tickles his birdie putt home at his final hole to make the cut

Pádraig Harrington tickles his birdie putt home at his final hole to make the cut

Pádraig Harrington enjoyed some welcome good luck when he hit an immaculate, 166-yard approach to four feet and made the putt to survive the halfway cut on the limit in the Valspar Championship in Tampa.

At five over par for the tournament with just 10 holes to play, it looked as if the Dubliner could face a long weekend before next week's trip to Delhi for the Hero Indian Open.

Even with amateur Lee McCoy not counting for the top 70 and ties, Harrington needed to get back to at least four over to have any chance of surviving the axe.

But he went one better over the tough front nine at the Innisbrook Resort's Copperhead Course, carding a level par 71 to get to three over and contribute to all the four overs, including Graeme McDowell, missing the cut.

As McDowell set up a series of great birdies chances down the stretch and missed them. Harrington birdied the par-five first from five feet and recovered from a four-foot par miss at the fourth with a birdie from 13 feet at the long fifth to get back to four over.

He looked safe for the weekend on that number and so his super approach to the last and the tricky putt proved to be crucial as exactly 70 professionals and one amateur made the weekend.

Will MacKenzie (70-67) and 49 year old Steve Stricker, who made an eagle two as he followed a 71 with a 67, lead by one stroke on five under par from  Daniel Berger (70-68), Graham DeLaet (72-66) and Bill Haas (71-67).

McDowell followed his opening 74 with a 72 and he will be furious having played the first five holes in two under to get back into the mix at just one over.

A double bogey six from nowhere at the sixth, followed by bogeys at the seventh, eighth and 11th left him struggling.

And while he appeared to be certain to survive as he got back to one over for the round with birdies at the 12th and 14th, he missed a six footer for birdie at the 16th and a nine footer for another at the 17th and ended up missing out by one.

World No 1 Jordan Spieth, the defending champion, had little luck on the greens but he holed out three times from just off the putting surface, just once with the putter, en route to a 68 that leaves him seven shots off the pace on two over.

"Just more greens in regulation," Spieth said when explaining the difference between 76 and 68. "I just hit some poor shots yesterday. I knew I wasn't far off. Played well in the Pro-Am.

"I've been playing well this week since we've been here. Just was a really off day yesterday with everything. Very difficult to make putts on these greens because you have to hit them a lot harder than you're used to. Still didn't get any putts to go today. Lucky I chipped in a couple times to make up for it."

Pádraig Harrington prepares to pull the trigger at the ninth

Pádraig Harrington prepares to pull the trigger at the ninth

Tied for 43rd, Spieth knows he will be hard pressed to retain his title but having realised he set his sights too high this season after opening the new year with a 30 under par win in Hawaii, he's hoping to play his way into a rhythm before his defence of the Masters.

"I just wanted to believe it was going to happen all the time and I kind of got humbled and, you know, obviously couple poor first rounds in L.A. and then here," Spieth said of some recent poor rounds.

"Fortunately was able to bring this one back to play the weekend. I'll start getting into a rhythm that will carry into the stretch of the Masters."

Had he succeeded in getting back to level for the tournament, he'd be fancied to challenge the leaders. But even at seven shot behind on a tough course, he can't be discounted.

As for his form and a testy twitter reply to some negative comments about Thursday's round and his up and down season he was candid and informative.

"It's the basics that have been off. My feet and lower body have shifted over to the right. When it's windy I get into this. My lower body shifts to the right and my shoulder stay open. The club just gets up. From there there's nowhere to play. Starts left, goes left or starts right, goes right.

"My 6-iron on No. 3 was a big shot. I stayed very, very committed to my line, very focused on a very specific targeting and a ball flight. I saw it before I hit. I lined up the correct way and put a good swing on it and I was rewarded.

"With all that being said, I needed all that to happen to really get that confidence back in my iron game. I hit some strong iron shots today, a few that I thought were better than they ended up.

"I wasn't really searching for technique. My coach texted me last night, forget about it, just hit one ball flight that you can trust. I kind of went away from that. I still stuck with trying to work with whatever was needed. But I started to lineup a little better."

As for his twitter reactions — even Rory McIlroy felt compelled to support him —  he went into detail:

"I don't look at notifications anymore because there's always positive and negative on there no matter what you're doing.
"But when it's something that pops up on the feed, I was a little upset at the PGA TOUR's -- it was a good article but it was tweeted the wrong way, the wrong quote was used and made it seem like I was okay with getting hurt and withdraw.
"I was frustrated at that. So, I just -- yeah, it wasn't -- I feel like us and the PGA TOUR, the players and the Tour are supposed to work for each other and kind of make each other look good.
"I felt like that was uncalled for when I really composed myself well after the round and I just tweeted, "Really, is that the quote we're going to take out of it considering all my quotes were published" and I got a direct message saying, "We're really sorry. We'll take it down. Trying to see the humour in it but other people weren't."
"Then I just took mine away. I don't ever really do that. It was a bit frustrating because it was on my feed and I felt like I was over it and trying to rebound and that made it kind of look bad.
"Q. Jordan, people say dumb stuff about you all the time. How do you know when to stand up for yourself publicly, like the Instagram kid?
JORDAN SPIETH: I don't know. You'll probably never see me do that again because obviously it was seen and known and -- just really frustrating. It's frustrating when -- there's really not a point.
"I should never respond to any of that, just let it go and by the time the next tournament rolls around no one even remembers it anyways.
"There's going to be plenty of people to have their own opinion and everyone has their own opinion. There's going to be plenty of people that don't like the way I play the game or handle things. I got to be confident in what I'm doing and know that many more do appreciate it.
"So, yeah, I was just -- I was a bit bored yesterday afternoon and I was just looking at my feed and after a tough round not good things are popping up so you can imagine if someone was talking, you know, to you like that, be a bit frustrating.
"So, anyway I got over it quickly.

Darren Clarke, 77-77, missed the cut by nine.