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Irish Open: Padraig Harrington rues missing chance to send out warning

By Peter Hutcheon

Padraig Harrington was kicking himself after failing to grab the Irish Open by the scruff of its neck in his second round yesterday.

The Dubliner could have put himself in a commanding position going into the weekend but paid the price for some silly mistakes.

He ended the day on two under for the tournament, one off the lead after finishing with back-to-back bogeys on the challenging eighth and ninth holes.

"I am pleased to be in contention but I would clearly have preferred to be at that seven or eight under position and be clear of the field," Harrington said.

"I'm now in a position where I am going to have to play well over the weekend and not have anything going against me.

"There will be a lot of people just making the cut this weekend who will feel like they have a chance of winning now that I've come back into the pack.

"It's going to be a much tougher weekend and I won't have the luxury of having any bad runs. I'll have to hope that things go in my favour and hopefully I've had my bad run already."

Those two closing holes of his round were deeply disappointing, especially as he had gone clear of the field with a great birdie two at the seventh when he hit his tee shot to just a couple of feet.

But he found trouble down the left at the eighth and a very poor chip left him looking at a 25-foot putt for par, which he missed.

There was more trouble off the tee at the ninth, leaving a very difficult approach and after missing the green, he couldn't get up and down.

"It was very disappointing to finish like that," he added.

"At the ninth I thought I hit a beautiful tee shot and it ended up in the rough which isn't where you want to be."

Harrington's round proceeded serenely until he reached the third hole, his 12th, which he double bogeyed after earlier picking up shots at the 16th, 17th and first holes.

With the players in the afternoon struggling with the wet and gusty conditions, he's still well placed to add a second Irish Open to his CV.

"The pressure of winning isn't gone just because I have already won one," he said.

"At the end of the day, the pressure is on to win any tournament and there are more distractions going on at an Irish Open for me."

Scot Richie Ramsay posted a second-round 67 to get himself to three under for the tournament.

"I hit some really good shots today but the most important thing is that when I hit a poor shot I rebounded well and got it up and down," he said. "I was a little bit disappointed I didn't get the up and down on the last but 67 is a great score out there and there's a great atmosphere when the putts drop in.

"It was tricky over the last couple of holes with a few squalls coming in but I think that everybody is having a great time out there."

Austrian Bernd Wiesberger also hit a 67 to move to three under. He played the back nine in five under, including a rare eagle at the closing hole.

At one stage, Denmark's Soren Kjeldsen held a two-shot lead over the field as he got himself to five under, but he was pegged back over the difficult closing stretch on the front nine.

That left a six-way tie for the lead at three under between Kjeldsen, Englishman Tyrrell Hatton - who equalled the course record of 66 - Ramsay, Wiesberger and Chris Wood.

Former world number one Luke Donald had a one-under round of 70 yesterday afternoon to join the group at two under.

Ramsay reckons the winning score could still be in double digits under par.

"I thought at the start of the week that seven or eight under par would win it and I thought that would be a hell of a score," he said. "But it's all dependent on the weather.

"If you're out in the morning or the afternoon it can change dramatically. I'm happy to get my 67."

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