EUROPEAN TOUR

Harrington shoots 69 and shows the young guys that there is life in the old dog

Cid Harmon

Padraig Harrington followed his opening round 66 with a three-under par  69 to lie just three shots off the lead at the Scottish Championship, Fairmont Resort, St. Andrews.

The Stackstown man picked up back to back birdies on the par 5 6th and par 4 7th to make the turn two under par.

The Ryder Cup captain dropped a shot on the par4 10th but made up for it with birdies on the par 4 15th and the par 5 18th, to finish nine under for the tournament and just three shots off the lead.

“I want to be competitive at the top level,” Harrington said. I’ve been obsessed with trying to keep up with these young guys. I really can at times. I’ve a lot more speed on the range than I have on the course, I see days where it’s good.

“My whole career I’ve been one level down from the longest hitters, and I’m still there now. I wouldn’t hit is as far as the longest hitters. If it was a long-drive competition I’d go for it, but not on the golf course. I’m hitting it straight – and a decent distance. Yesterday I gained 2.9 shots off the tee, which is unheard of for me. Driving it well and putting it well is a good combination.

“I tried everything and more than Bryson. I’m very impressed with Bryson because it’s really hard to change. I know he had all that speed but being able to bring that to the golf course is quite impressive. Why people didn’t see this in 1996, Tiger had a huge length advantage – a great driver of the ball. He was so long off the tee he ended up playing a softer golf ball than the rest of us in the 2000s. He was still longer but played with a golf ball that nobody else could have played with, because it was so soft.

“Then Rory and DJ came along. They were more of a change because when you have one long guy, it doesn’t matter, because he can’t win every week. When you have five, six then all of a sudden ten or 20 you have to pick one of those.

“If there’s 20 long guys on Tour you have to pick one of them to win every week, it’s a matter of who plays well. One, it’s still okay, I won’t be around but in ten or 15 years’ time you’ll have 20 or 30 guys on Tour like Cameron Champ – close to 200 mph ball speed, within themselves, not swinging it out of their boots, hitting it nicely. I’m glad I won’t be around to compete with them.

“Since I started doing Paddy’s golf tips (my social media numbers) really went up. They multiplied. People seemed to enjoy it. I think I hit the people I wanted to – those weekend golfers.

“A lot of the coaching you see out there is for the elite players or students of the game. To tell an amateur golfer to lay the club down in their downswing – what does that mean? For people out there trying to do that, you’re not going to gain anything. I’m trying to hit the person who plays once a week, the beginner or a casual golfer – get your head straight so everybody can enjoy the game. I believe everybody should be able to get down to single figures”.

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Jonathan Caldwell. Photo by Golffile

Clandeboye's Jonathan Caldwell carded a magnificent six under par 66 with seven birdies with just the one bogey on the par 3 5th. He is currently lying in a tie for 8th place and four shots off the lead.

“It’s a good score and also with the breeze now getting up, so I am pleased to have been out early and be able to take advantage of the benign conditions,” said Caldwell. So, the conditions suited me right down to the ground so hopefully, the tougher weather is coming in this weekend.

“I tend to do well on tough golf courses in tough conditions and when the premium is on finding fairways. The good thing about my game this week is that I am driving it very well, touch wood.  If can continue to drive the ball, I think I can continue to score well. So, all I am going to do is continue what I have been doing.”

Cormac Sharvin and Gavin Moynihan both missed the cut by one shot

Adrian Otaegui followed up his opening 62 with a battling 70 on Friday to sit alongside Matt Wallace at the top of the 2020 Scottish Championship presented by AXA leaderboard at the halfway stage.

The Spaniard came into the day with a three shot lead but he had been replaced at the summit by the time he began his second round at 12.15pm, after early starter Wallace carded six birdies and a single bogey to set the clubhouse target at 12 under par.

And Otaegui looked in danger of falling off the pace completely in the early stages of his round, sandwiching the only birdie of his front nine - at the 15th - between bogeys on the 11th and 17th and fighting hard for pars elsewhere.

But his back nine was a different story, as he made four birdies and just the one bogey to head into the weekend tied for the lead.

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Matt Wallace. Photo by Golffile

Englishman Wallace, meanwhile, continued his impressive recent form, making the most of favourable morning scoring conditions to shoot a 67.

Aberdeen Standard Investments Scottish Open champion Aaron Rai sat a single shot behind the co-leaders after producing a brilliant 67 that contained two eagles in his first six holes, with France's Adrien Saddier another stroke back on ten under.

While others were racking up the birdies in pleasant conditions at Fairmont St Andrews, Otaegui struggled to replicate Thursday's form in the first few holes of his second round, slipping back to nine under with a bogey at the 11th.

He bounced back with a birdie from four feet on the 15th and could have made another at the next but his long putt ran five feet past the hole and he did well to save par.
 
Otaegui dropped another shot at the 17th before holing his 20 foot effort on the first green to return to ten under.

A third bogey followed at the second as the two time European Tour winner struggled for consistency but he rolled in for a birdie from eight feet on the fourth green before reeling off back to back gains courtesy of close range putts at the sixth and seventh to move alongside Wallace at the top.

Both of Otaegui's victories have come in match play events and he has his sights fixed on winning a stroke play tournament soon.

He said: "I'm feeling good, I'm feeling happy about the round. I had to work hard at the beginning to save some pars, which I did OK.

"And then I played much better on the back nine so it's been OK, it's been a good day.

"I'm pleased because of the way I've been playing in the last two days, the way I've felt on the greens as well, even if today I didn't hole as many putts as yesterday.

"Even when I struggled, the few shots I missed, I still fought to save par or try to save. There's still a lot of golf to play from now to the end of the week so let's go and enjoy.
 
"My favourite way of golf is stroke play so I definitely want to win that way as well."

Wallace had begun the day three shots adrift of overnight leader Otaegui but set about closing the gap with a birdie at the long 12th - his third hole.

The four time European Tour champion dropped a shot at the next but fired a bounce back birdie on the 14th to return to eight under.

Wallace holed his ten foot birdie putt at the 18th before making it back to back gains at the first.

After a run of four straight pars, Wallace reeled off back to back birdies at the sixth and seventh to get to 12 under.

The World Number 51 almost made it three in a row but his lengthy birdie putt on the eighth green narrowly missed the hole.
 
The Englishman gave himself another chance at the last, sending his approach into the ninth to 20 feet, but left his putt just short.

Wallace spent his first two rounds in the company of Padraig Harrington but he does not think his performances will influence the Ryder Cup Captain's thinking ahead of next year's rescheduled contest at Whistling Straits.

"It's good that I've done that in front of him but I'm not sure it'll make much difference to Padraig," said Wallace, who is looking to make his debut in the contest.

"He'll want players to be in there on merit and then if it comes down to a pick then he'll want to choose someone that's in form.

"I'm going to try and do it where I don't need to get a pick this time. This is a nice start. I'm taking in some form over the last few weeks, just not really posting any numbers.

"Hopefully I can do that this week."

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