If there is one thing Padraig Harrington and Tiger Woods agree on after two days of playing alongside each other and discussing their musical tastes (not much crossover there), it is that the world No 1 can still win the Deutsche Bank SAP Open. After two rounds here at Gut Kaden Harrington was 13 under par after rounds of 65 and 66. Woods, looking for a hat-trick of titles, trailed by nine strokes after adding a 71 to his opening 69.
Two years ago Woods came from 10 strokes behind Michael Campbell at the halfway stage to win. Last week at The Belfry, Harrington led the Benson and Hedges International after 36 holes but went on to record his 19th second place, this time to Paul Casey.
In a match-up between one of the greatest winners the game has seen and someone who manages to contrive to lose from strong positions, the records shows that Harrington beat Woods at the Target World Challenge in the United States last December.
"It's going to be tough to catch him," Woods said of Harrington. The word "impossible" was not mentioned. "Paddy has missed, I believe, one putt inside 15 feet," Woods added. "When it's going your way, it's going your way."
Woods flirted with the unthinkable – missing the cut – when he recorded bogeys on two of the first three holes. He failed to get up and down from a greenside bunker at the first and then found the water for the second day running at the par-five third. He rallied with three birdies but it is fair to say he has not found his touch on the diseased greens.
Tiger burst out laughing on the 13th green when his putt first bounced off line, then hit more bumps and turned up the hill and into the cup. Harrington denied he was as perfect on the greens as Woods suggested. "I will be thinking more about the ones I missed this evening than the ones I holed," he said. "But when you are at the top of the leaderboard things tend to go your way."
The Irishman holed a long putt at the 10th that spent much of its journey in mid-air and his bladed chip at the 16th, which came out faster than he wanted, hit the flagstick and fell in for his sixth birdie of the day. He had not dropped a shot in two days and leads by three from Retief Goosen.
"Without a doubt Tiger can still win," Harrington said. "But two things have to happen. Tiger has to play well and I have to not repeat what I've done the last two days. But there are lots of other players who are a threat, me among them."
Casey was five behind, exactly the same position as at The Belfry. The 25-year-old Englishman had not played the course before the first round as the pro-am was washed out. By yesterday he had learnt enough to score a 66. He did not feel there would be a let down after winning the biggest title of his career on Sunday.
"I don't see any reason why I should have a poor week following a good one," Casey said. "On Thursday I didn't know what to expect and not knowing the course went out without a purpose. I am playing good golf and controlling the ball well now I've got the course mapped out."
Justin Rose, despite getting so frustrated over one shot that he threw the hefty divot at his caddie, had his first bogey-free round for some time to be four under.
At the other end of the age scale, 45-year-old Nick Faldo was also flawless to be seven under after a 67. He then revealed he had the body of someone in their 30s, at least according to Mary Mackay, the Queen's physiotherapist – the club rather than the monarch.
Deutsche bank sap open: Leading second-round scores (GB or Irl unless stated): 131 P Harrington 65 66. 134 R Goosen (SA) 65 69. 135 R Karlsson (Swe) 68 67, P O'Malley (Aus) 69 66, G McDowell 70 65, A Coltart 68 67. 136 Paul Lawrie 70 66, P Casey 70 66, Peter Lawrie 67 69, P Baker 67 69, R Jacquelin (Fr) 68 68, D Clarke 67 69. 137 N Fasth (Swe) 68 69, N Faldo 70 67, W Bennett 68 69, M Tunnicliff 69 68, A Forsyth 70 67, K Na (S Kor) 69 68, K Eriksson (Swe) 72 65. 138 J Moseley (Aus) 72 66, S Gallacher 71 67, A Hansen (Den) 68 70, C Montgomerie 69 69, T Levet (Fr) 71 67, M Vibe-Hastrup (Den) 71 67, B Barham 68 70, G Rojas (Arg) 69 69.