Harrington takes advantage at Baltusrol

Harrington takes advantage at Baltusrol
Pádraig Harrington rolls in one of his five birdies on Saturday

Pádraig Harrington rolls in one of his five birdies on Saturday

Pádraig Harrington shot 65 for only the second time in 226 major championship rounds to give himself an outside chance of a fourth major win at the US PGA.

The 44 year old’s bogey free, five under par round left tied for 10th on four under par, five behind leaders Jimmy Walker and Robert Streb, as the prospect of a Monday finish loomed large.

Approaching thunderstorm forced play to be suspended at 2.15pm local time (7.15pm BST) and no more play was possible,  which meant the leaders never got to start.

As agencies reported:

Persistent heavy rain then left parts of the course flooded before play was finally abandoned for the day shortly before 6pm local time, with a resumption set for 7am on Sunday.

However, similar conditions were forecast and any further delays would force the final major of the year into a fifth day, just as they did the last time Baltusrol staged the US PGA in 2005.
One man actually hoping for history to repeat itself was Ireland's Padraig Harrington, who had earlier carded a flawless 65 to finish four under par, matching Phil Mickelson's winning total of 11 years ago.

Mickelson's second major title was sealed on a Monday after bad weather disrupted the final round, the left-hander eventually making a birdie on the 72nd hole to finish a shot ahead of Thomas Bjorn and Steve Elkington.

Harrington was overtaken for the clubhouse lead by one by  American Kevin Kisner, who also recorded a 65 before the suspension.

The 44-year-old Dubliner, who successfully defended his Open title in 2008 and won the US PGA a month later at Oakland Hills, said: "In my head I'm hoping the scoring goes the same it did the last time the PGA Championship was here, when the leaders came under pressure on the golf course and maybe some guys behind, namely me, get a bit of momentum early on and can push on.
“If you do get momentum in the early holes you feel good and feel there are opportunities to make birdies.

Harrington overshadowed Masters champion Danny Willett, who shot 74, and he was very pleased to get so much out of his round and take advantage of his breaks. 

"There was definitely a score on the golf course," Harrington said. "I probably made the most of the round today. I played average, but made the most of it, took my chances. Hit the right shots at the right time, and any of the shots that I didn't hit well didn't do me any harm. So it was one of those days. It's nice when you score better than you play."

He added: "In my head, I'm hoping the scoring goes a little bit like it did the last time the PGA Championship was here and the leaders come under a bit of pressure on the golf course, and maybe some guys behind, namely me, get a bit of momentum early on and can push on.

As for his bid to make the Top 125 who qualify for the FedEx Cup playoffs, where he is currently ranked 140th, Harrington's trip to Rio for the Olympics means he has this week and next week's Travelers Championship to clinch his place.

"This is very unusual for me, even if I'm not in the FedExCup, I normally come back and would play Wyndham (in Greensboro, North Carolina)," Harrington said. "But I think so much of the Olympics, I'm going to take a week's holiday and go to a number of events.

"It's an opportunity of a lifetime to really have a great week's holiday the second week. The first week will be all business, but hopefully the second week we'll have a good week and hopefully I'll do enough this week and next week to get myself up in the FedEx points."

Harrington is taking his entire family to Brazil and hoping to see as much as he can the week after the men's golf event.

"Table tennis, gymnastics, diving, velodrome, boxing," he said.  "I'm sure I'm missing out on one or two. This is all the second week. So I'm trying to do two things a day the second week."