Harrington on song as Woods survives

By Mark Garrod,Florida
Saturday 27 March 2004 01:00

The Players Championship here, golf's richest event, is fast becoming one of Padraig Harrington's favourites. The Dubliner won £315,000 for finishing joint runner-up last year and two birdies in his last three holes yesterday left him only three strokes behind the surprise American pacesetter Kevin Sutherland.

Harrington, who added a 70 to his opening 68 for a halfway total of 138, led by two at the same stage 12 months ago, but maybe being the pursuer rather than the pursued will suit him over the weekend.

He said: "I feel very comfortable here and hopefully it will happen for me sooner rather than later. This is very early season for me, to be honest, but although I putted poorly today I've certainly given myself a chance."

Harrington missed a seven-foot eagle opportunity on the 507-yard 16th after a glorious approach, but holed from 15 feet at the last. He said: "Two ahead or three behind, it does not make much difference. Whoever plays best over the weekend is going to win - nobody is going to get away with not performing. I didn't practise well, but I seem to play better with fear than I do with confidence."

The same seems to go for Tiger Woods at the moment. He responded to the threat of missing his first halfway cut since 1997 - 120 US Tour events ago - in scintillating style at the start of his second round. The world No 1, outside the top 100 overnight, jumped to 66th place with a brilliant eagle on the long 11th, his second of the day. He hit the perfect drive and then an iron to within seven feet of the flag.

Woods then added a birdie at the next and after bogeying the 18th he almost eagled again on the 532-yard second, his chip hitting the flag and rimming out. At level par with six to play he was up to 43rd, with the top 70 and ties qualifying for the last 36 holes, but there was still little margin for error.

Players Championship (Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla): Leading second-round scores: 135 K Sutherland 66 69. 138 E Els (SA) 68 69. 138 V Singh (Fij) 70 68; P Harrington (Irl) 68 70. 139 B Burns 67 72; D Waldorf 66 73. 140 K Perry 69 71; B Tway 69 71; F Lickliter 69 71. 141 C Pavin 74 67; M Kuchar 74 67; C Beckman 70 71. 142 J Daly 69 73. 143 T Pernice 72 71; T Bjorn (Den) 67 76; G Ogilvy (Aus) 73 70; H Tanaka (Japan) 72 71; L Mattiace 74 69; S Verplank 68 75; I Poulter (GB) 70 73; J Sindelar 73 70; J Parnevik (Swe) 72 71; S Cink 70 73.Selected: 151 B Davis (GB) 77 74. First-round leaders: 65 A Scott (Aus); 66 D Waldorf, K Sutherland; 67 K J Choi (S Kor), T Bjorn (Den), B Burns; 68 S Garcia (Sp), B Jobe, E Els (SA), S Verplank, P Harrington (Irl). Selected: 75 T Woods.

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