Pádraig Harrington blasted a seven-under 63 to lead the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and insisted: “Only a fool would discount me on a links course.”
The Dubliner made a mockery of his pre-tournament odds of 100-1 and proved that when it comes to links golf, he’s light years removed from 291st in the world.
“Whenever I step on a links golf course, I am going to be good value,” Harrington said after finishing the day a shot clear of South African Zander Lombard. "And going forward, only a fool would discount me on a links course.
"In my head, I’m thinking I'm one of the best players in the world, what am I doing down at 300 in the world."
His rivals can take that as a warning ahead of the Scottish Open and The Open at Royal Portrush and he knows that after scorching around Lahinch in seven-under, he has wriggle room as he seeks his second Irish Open triumph.
“Yeah, there's a comfort zone,” he said. “I know how to work my way around this golf course, links courses, clubbing, picking the right shot at the right time, what to go for, where to play shots.
"You know, that's how you get around. That's my speciality. I just was keen not to waste it on these three weeks and be thinking, oh, well, I always have next year. I'm kind of thinking, well, maybe I don't. Maybe The Ryder Cup will be in the way next year.”
He knows to win now, he doesn’t have to shoot the lights out again today.
“All it does is create a number of extra scenarios where I can go on and win this tournament,” he said. “Obviously, I don't need to shoot four 63s to win.
"Who knows what I need to shoot in any given day, but there's a lot more scenarios when you open up with 63 than if you open up with 73 to get that finish on Sunday.”