Pádraig Harrington has not given up hope of claiming what would be his second Irish Open title despite a hugely disappointing second round thee-over score of 73 at a gloomy and wet Old Course in Lahinch on Friday morning.
All told, the Dubliner's day was in marked contrast to his opening effort here in Clare when he posted a superb seven-under 63 under under the glare of a burning sun and assume the overnight lead by a single stroke.
Harrington bogeyed four holes on the way out this time but managed to come back in one-under par with a birdie at the par-five 18th which was inches away from being an eagle. A satisfactory end at least to a very difficult day.
“Yesterday was tough and sunny but today was that rain and those cross winds that made some of those pin positions look very difficult and I lost a lot of momentum, (with) a couple of bad three-putts,” he explained after his three-over effort.
“Not that they were so bad but at 1, 3, 5 I made bogeys. On 3, 5, 7 the three of them were three putts and a bad up-and-down on the first.
Harrington admitted to being tentative starting out due to his place at the summit and after so many months battling a wrist injury and poor form. That, and his below-par short game, cost him dearly in very tough early conditions.
He celebrated his 63 on Thursday with a '99' ice-cream after a round which he described as “easy” and a “stroll in the park” but there will be no treats this time as he takes stock of a game that is still short of where it needs to be.
“A 73 does not deserve a '99',” he laughed.
“I probably will hit some chips. I will definitely practise my chipping a bit. Hard to recreate the chips. I haven't found a spot yet that gives me an interest in chipping here so that is a bit difficult.
“The chips on the course are great shots and I just haven't found a chipping green here. There is a couple of them. I am going to go look for a more interested chipping green to get myself up to speed on those chip and runs.”
It wasn't just his own failings that stopped him generating any momentum. Harrington had none of the luck that contributed to his efforts less than 24 hours around the same links.
"I got all the breaks yesterday and I wasn't getting them today.
“That's the nature of this game. I hit some bad shots today and I was putting up and over slopes whereas yesterday if I hit the same shot I was just on the right side of the slope putting up the slope for an easy two-putt. With golf you just have to play your way through and not make a big deal about any one-hole situation.”
He had said on Wednesday that his focus right now was on getting his game as good as he could for the Open Championship in Portrush later this month. That is still the long-term goal, even as he keeps one eye on more immediate concerns.
“Oh I am very much thinking of winning this week but I am overall focused,” he explained.
“I'm trying to get my routine sharp, which was a lot harder today in the rain. I saw some good stuff yesterday and I'm going to keep going with that now for the next few weeks and see where we stand.”