Padraig Harrington will take a share of the lead into the weekend at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open, after setting up a three-way tie at the top at Dundonald Links.
The Irishman entered Friday two shots off the lead but fired a bogey-free 68 to set the target at nine under before he was reeled in by two of the European Tour’s rising stars.
Harrington – a 15-time winner on the European Tour – is playing his 410th European Tour event and while Alexander Knappe of Germany and England’s Callum Shinkwin may have just 66 appearances between them, they both put in impressive afternoon performances to join him at the top of the leader board.
Knappe signed for a 65 that matched the lowest round of the week so far while Shinkwin, who missed nine cuts in a row between January and June, carded a 68 as both men went in search of a first victory at the fourth Rolex Series event of the season.
Three-time Major Champion Harrington returns to the scene of his second Open Championship triumph at Royal Birkdale next week, but before that he is looking for a second win in ten months after claiming the Portugal Masters in October.
England’s Ian Poulter, who finished second to Harrington on Merseyside in 2008, is at eight under alongside Australian Andrew Dodt, and a shot clear of Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts, Rickie Fowler of the USA and Frenchman Grégory Havret.
Meanwhile, four-time Major winner Rory McIlroy has missed his second cut in a row, after one under par 71 left him at one over for the week. Defending champion Alex Noren, local favourite Russell Knox and American star Patrick Reed are amongst the players who will not be returning to Dundonald Links this weekend.
“The whole week’s been interesting. I played a Pro-Am on Monday in Ireland and I was meant to fly out, I was due here on Monday night. As it turned out the traffic was really bad and I ended up missing my flight. So I got an extra day at home, which meant I didn’t get a practise round but I came in probably quite refreshed.
“I had plenty of drama in the first round. It wasn’t all plain sailing in that five-under par for sure. I hit some good shots but I got some good breaks as well. I think the first three holes, I was two under after three yesterday, and I hit it in the bush in the second and I hit it in the hazard on the third.
“Then today was the opposite. Today was just boring, there was no stress. All day, I made two birdies on par fives and I hit two seven irons on my 10th and 11th hole – the first and second hole – in pretty close. That was my day. It couldn’t have been more opposite to yesterday.
“I’ve kind of come to the conclusion, I’ve pretty much done what I’ve done in the game of golf. I will win tournaments. I enjoy being out here. You know, why bother beating myself up over it. I can do nicely. If I win another major, three majors, four majors, not a huge deal. If you told me I was going to win another six majors, well, okay, that might be a difference.”
“I made a birdie, a good putt on my third hole, and then I holed a pitch shot and the momentum was up and I kept going. I think my putting was really good but also just the momentum kept up.
“In the past few weeks, if I hit a bad shot I would end up in a really terrible lie and I couldn’t do anything with it. Today some momentum was there and even when I was hitting bad shots, I still had a shot to the green.
“I started okay at the beginning of the season and then I struggled the last two months. I kept working and the only thing you can do is keep your head up and try and try. It was nice that a few putts rolled in today and I played a good round, so I’m looking forward to keeping it up.
“You always try to feel a low score somewhere. You never should give up. You should always fight, work hard, and eventually everything falls together. So I’m trying to just work hard and keep the good work up and hopefully I’ll have a good finish here.”
“It was very good, I played very well today. I had a couple of missed putts on the two par threes, but other than that it was very cool. Once I made a couple of birdies on two and three, I managed to kick on and have less mistakes.
“The first step is trying to keep my card. The next step is the bigger events at the end of the season. I actually missed nine cuts in a row. I was working with my coach in France and managed to find an extra piece to the puzzle to try and fix up my season and it’s worked so far. I’ve just found a consistency in my game really. I managed to find that at The French Open, and I just need to keep trying to perform and practice as well.
“I was in the final group last year in China and I learnt from it, it helped me to make sure my final rounds are much more consistent. It should be good fun tomorrow.”
“Today I felt much more comfortable hitting shots, even though there was a couple of loose ones out there. Overall obviously I scrambled well at the right time – a cheeky chip-in, and a nice holed 40-footer there on 16. You need to do that if you’re going to stay in contention and obviously I’m pretty happy with my round.
“The overall assessment is pretty good. I’d like to just whip to the range in the rain for five minutes to hit five drivers. I was losing that a little right. But the rest of the bag felt very good. I felt more balanced in my swing from the changes that made yesterday, even if it sounds weird to make some changes after shooting five under, but they needed to be done.
“It would mean a lot (to win the Scottish Open). It would be an even crazier four months if we can pull it off. I need to get to the range, I need to hit a few balls. I want to start hitting the middle of the fairways, because from that position I think I can be pretty dangerous.”
“I’m frustrated but at the same time I thought I saw some good signs out there. I thought my putting improved this week compared to last week. Wedge play, you know, I hit some better wedges today but there’s still room for improvement.
“I shot one under par today. It’s close without being – it’s hard to sort of put my finger on it. But it’s not like I’m shooting 76s and 77s. It’s all around even par, but look, even par these days isn’t good enough.
“I’m just waiting for something. Waiting for something, some sort of spark, just something to go right, and the last couple weeks haven’t been like that. I’ve just got to keep plugging away and hopefully it turns around next week.
“I’ll probably head down to Birkdale early. Get some early practice rounds in and just try to get myself ready for that golf course and the test that that’s going to provide next week.”
Round two scores
135 A Knappe (Ger) 70 65; P Harrington (Irl) 67 68; C Shinkwin (Eng) 67 68;
136 I Poulter (Eng) 67 69; A Dodt (Aus) 67 69;
137 G Havret (Fra) 71 66; N Colsaerts (Bel) 70 67; R Fowler (USA) 67 70;
138 A Levy (Fra) 72 66; M Kuchar (USA) 68 70;
139 D Horsey (Eng) 71 68; K Broberg (Swe) 69 70; A Otaegui (Esp) 73 66; M Ilonen (Fin) 65 74;
140 B Hebert (Fra) 68 72; J Scrivener (Aus) 72 68; S Gallacher (Sco) 68 72; A Scott (Aus) 69 71; L Bjerregaard (Den) 69 71;
141 A Johnston (Eng) 73 68; L Haotong (Chn) 70 71; H Stenson (Swe) 72 69; S Brazel (Aus) 72 69; B Ritthammer (Ger) 72 69; P Dunne (Irl) 68 73; A Chesters (Eng) 71 70; R Fox (Nzl) 72 69; R Wattel (Fra) 72 69; D Stewart (Sco) 71 70; J Campillo (Esp) 72 69;
142 J Carlsson (Swe) 73 69; L Donald (Eng) 70 72; R Cabrera Bello (Esp) 70 72; R Ramsay (Sco) 68 74; R Sterne (RSA) 73 69; A Sullivan (Eng) 70 72; R Rock (Eng) 73 69; B Wiesberger (Aut) 73 69; A Wall (Eng) 71 71; T Aiken (RSA) 69 73; B Grace (RSA) 75 67; R Paratore (Ita) 69 73; M Carlsson (Swe) 68 74; R Gouveia (Por) 70 72;
143 R Fisher (Eng) 69 74; T Bjørn (Den) 72 71; P Hanson (Swe) 69 74; S Kjeldsen (Den) 71 72; M Kieffer (Ger) 71 72; G McDowell (Nir) 75 68; R Bland (Eng) 69 74; L Slattery (Eng) 75 68; R Karlsson (Swe) 69 74; A Björk (Swe) 73 70; M Pavon (Fra) 69 74; J Smith (Eng) 72 71; P Peterson (USA) 67 76; B An (Kor) 72 71; S Gros (Fra) 72 71; A Cañizares (Esp) 71 72; D Howell (Eng) 70 73; S Lee (Kor) 71 72; G Stal (Fra) 74 69; A Lahiri (Ind) 76 67; P Waring (Eng) 73 70;
144 G Bourdy (Fra) 74 70; J Doherty (Sco) 73 71; H Otto (RSA) 73 71; R Karlberg (Swe) 75 69; C Shih-Chang (Tpe) 71 73; S Cink (USA) 72 72; M Warren (Sco) 72 72; S Hend (Aus) 75 69; J Dufner (USA) 71 73; R Knox (Sco) 74 70; B Dredge (Wal) 73 71; R Langasque (Fra) 69 75; G Wright (Wal) 74 70; T Detry (Bel) 75 69; E Molinari (Ita) 73 71; P Reed (USA) 74 70; M Kaymer (Ger) 74 70; H Porteous (RSA) 74 70; F Fritsch (Ger) 73 71; M Fraser (Aus) 72 72; T Hatton (Eng) 73 71; A Quiros (Esp) 72 72; M Fitzpatrick (Eng) 73 71; B Stone (RSA) 72 72; S Dyson (Eng) 71 73;
145 C Wood (Eng) 72 73; G Storm (Eng) 75 70; J Fahrbring (Swe) 72 73; W Ormsby (Aus) 71 74; M Foster (Eng) 73 72; R McIlroy (Nir) 74 71; M Wallace (Eng) 73 72; N Bertasio (Ita) 71 74; J Quesne (Fra) 74 71; M Siem (Ger) 73 72; P Uihlein (USA) 75 70; C Paisley (Eng) 73 72; D Drysdale (Sco) 74 71; J Lagergren (Swe) 72 73; E Grillo (Arg) 72 73;
146 D Fichardt (RSA) 74 72; A Noren (Swe) 70 76; N Kimsey (Eng) 74 72; S Heisele (Ger) 71 75; J Walters (RSA) 73 73;
147 K Aphibarnrat (Tha) 72 75; M Armitage (Eng) 76 71; M Korhonen (Fin) 74 73; W Ashun (Chn) 75 72; M Lorenzo-Vera (Fra) 72 75; N Elvira (Esp) 73 74; D Im (USA) 76 71; B Rumford (Aus) 72 75; T Immelman (RSA) 76 71; M Manassero (Ita) 72 75;
148 E De La Riva (Esp) 74 74; V Dubuisson (Fra) 71 77; N Fasth (Swe) 77 71; J Donaldson (Wal) 73 75; F Zanotti (Par) 71 77; P Larrazábal (Esp) 76 72; M Southgate (Eng) 75 73; S Chawrasia (Ind) 72 76; J Morrison (Eng) 74 74;
149 S Jamieson (Sco) 76 73; D Frittelli (RSA) 76 73; O Fisher (Eng) 78 71; T Jaidee (Tha) 77 72;
150 R Jacquelin (Fra) 75 75; C Hanson (Eng) 71 79; J Edfors (Swe) 75 75; S Walker (Eng) 78 72; S Manley (Wal) 74 76; S Henry (Sco) 77 73;
151 D Brooks (Eng) 73 78; J Wang (Kor) 74 77; D Burmester (RSA) 77 74; M Laird (Sco) 75 76; F Aguilar (Chi) 77 74;
152 P Angles (Esp) 77 75;
153 P O’Hara (Sco) 79 74; P Lawrie (Sco) 77 76; S Scott (am) (Sco) 78 75;
154 D Perrier (Fra) 70 84; J Lima (Por) 76 78;
156 J Stalter (Fra) 77 79;
157 D Lingmerth (Swe) 71 86;
166 D Lipsky (USA) 77 89;
** L Jensen (Den) 76 WD; D Clarke (Nir) 80 WD; G Coetzee (RSA) 79 RT;