Thrills beat the spills on Harrington's rollercoaster

With an eagle on the meddlesome 17th last night, Padraig Harrington, down among the dead men or so it seemed just a few short days ago, soared back into contention in this Open that had seemed so closed to him because of damage to his wrist. That took him to three over – and just three shots off the pace – but he was not done there. He then birdied the last to set the tournament alight.

"I finished bogey-bogey on my first round, which was a bit disappointing, but I've got those shots back today," he said. "An eagle was a bonus, but after that you're not going to do anything other than birdie the last, are you?"

If last year's event was a rollercoaster for the 36-year-old Dubliner, who came from six shots behind Sergio Garcia to reel in the Spaniard on the final day's play, then Birkdale '08 is a ride with knobs on.

Click here for the latest leaderboard and statistics

The numbers for his last four holes last night, read quite astonishingly, birdie, par, eagle, birdie. Any such notion that he is a write-off just because he could not push a tee into the ground without searing pain on Monday, has by been revealed, comprehensively, as so much baloney.

He began yesterday four shots over par and five off the lead but then carded a 68 to move to two-over-par overall, and just two off the lead.

The eagle on 17 was greeted with whoops of glee not just because the 25-putt sank, but here, dressed in vivid green, was the embodiment of the idea that nothing on this course this crazy week will be over till it's over.

The three-wood drive from the tee had been clever, down the left, and then the approach had been pin high, stealing back a few feet before it stopped. The finish was simply pin sharp.

Earlier in the round, on the second hole, a 421-yard par four, Harrington had birdied from a bunker, one of two new traps to the right of the green. A bogey on six was not that surprising. Figures as substantial as Colin Montgomerie and Phil Mickelson have doubled and tripled on that monster par four this week. Three more pars took Harrington out in 34.

Bogeys on 10 and 11 set back his cause and, briefly, cast a doubt over whether he would make the cut. He was six over at that stage, with the cut then projected at six or seven. But there were no more flaws, merely great scores, to be revealed.

Garcia, in contrast, had a 73 to leave him five over par and five shots off the pace, and three behind his nemesis from 12 months ago. He will not have gone back to his digs a happy bunny, especially since he missed an absolute gimme of an 18-inch putt on the 18th hole. It was doubly annoying for him and his supporters after rolling up up a 30-feet approach before the miss.

He argued that he had been overly careful. "I didn't rush it," he said. "I was more worried about other things than the putt itself. I was thinking about not treading on anyone else's line, whether or not I should mark it. Then you look up and realise you've missed it. That's what happens sometimes. But it's OK, I'm still alive.

"I feel like I still have a good chance and it's far from over. I've just got to make sure I don't make any mistakes at the weekend."

Garcia's putting has, ironically, been hot as vindaloo of late, which is one of the reasons he started the Open as the bookmakers' favourite. His confidence has even seen him get rid of the belly-putter he was using a year ago.

On a positive note, Garcia played some dazzling golf. Sporadically. On the par-three fourth his tee shot found the back of the green, and then a 70-foot downhill putt snaked in for a birdie. "A bomb" was how Garcia described it, but apart from a second birdie on the 17th there was not much consistency.

In good weather, he might have been better value to continue Spain's glorious sporting summer. In this stuff, even though he can be good in the wind, he is stuttering. "There are not a lot of birdie opportunities out there," he said. "On so many holes you're hitting long irons into the green. If you hit to 20 feet you're a happy camper. It's a great golf course."

For Harrington, certainly.

Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Sport
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
News
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
News
Image from a flyer at the CPAC event where Nigel Farage will be speaking
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower