Padraig Harrington is a massive 11 shots off the lead at the halfway stage of the low-key Vivendi Trophy in Paris – but at least he is still in it.
Seven days before he tries to win his first Ryder Cup game since 2004, Harrington avoided what would have been a worrying early exit by the skin of his teeth after a second-round 74.
The three-time major champion is the only player in the world’s top 80 taking part, yet he needed three birdies in his last six holes to survive.
Harrington, who has fallen from third to 22nd in the rankings in the two years he has gone without a Tour win, stands two under par while England’s John Parry and Swede Jarmo Sandelin are already 13 under.
With Paul Casey joint leader overnight in America and posed to challenge for a £7.2million jackpot, the pressure is mounting on the Dubliner to justify his wildcard selection ahead of the world number seven.
He went out of bounds and triple-bogeyed the 12th, but five three-putts in the first 36 holes were the biggest cause for concern.
Told about Casey’s opening 66 Harrington said: “I genuinely hope he wins it. I’m certainly not going to wish he plays bad golf. That’s not going to make me play better.
“I’m looking forward to the Ryder Cup and that’s all I can focus on – not whether Paul Casey or Justin Rose should have got a pick.
“I made two terrible mental errors and they do a lot of damage, but I need to practise my putting and get that ready for next week.
“I can see that’s the weakest part of my game and that’s where my focus will be. That needs to be tidied up for next week.
“But I like the fact that I played well when I had to. It’s always good when your back is to the wall, you have to perform and you do.”
Parry, a team-mate of Rory McIlroy in the 2007 Walker Cup, also led in Austria after two rounds last week, but fell back to 20th.
That left the 23-year-old from Harrogate 116th on the money list – and only the top 115 keep their cards at the end of the season.