Harrington crashes back to earth with two-over 73

A day after shooting the lowest official score of his career, a 10-under-par 61 to set the course record, Pádraig Harrington slumped to a two- over 73 in the Transitions Championship in Florida, yesterday.

A couple of wayward shots and a cold putter meant he was never going to repeat Thursday’s exploits.

Elsewhere, Miguel Angel Jimenez has hopes of becoming the European Tour’s oldest-ever winner this weekend — thanks to the circuit’s youngest-ever winner throwing the Andalucian Open wide open.

Eighteen-year-old Italian Matteo Manassero held a three-stroke lead after his course record-equalling opening round of 64 at Aloha, but managed only a 73 on his return.

Tournament promoter Jimenez, who has had to dip into his own pocket to help provide the £830,000 prize money, is now in joint second place after a 68.

Having turned 48 in January, the Ryder Cup star would be 39 days older than record holder Des Smyth if he grabs his 19th Tour title tomorrow.

Surprise halfway leader is his fellow Spaniard Eduardo de la Riva, ranked only 610th in the world and not even a member of the circuit.

The 29-year-old from Barcelona, one of eight players given places in the event off the Spanish Order of Merit, stands eight under par after rounds of 67 and 69. He has been to the qualifying school nine times and the only time he made it through was a decade ago, but last October he had his best-ever finish of third at the Madrid Masters.

Jimenez, at 51st the highest-ranked player in the field, is one behind along with Manassero, Irishman Damien McGrane, and another of the home contingent, Pablo Larrazabal.

It then became a five-way tie when Tommy Fleetwood, the 21-year-old from Southport who won last year’s Challenge Tour, completed his 69 with a birdie.

Among those on six under is England’s Oliver Wilson, nine times a runner-up without ever winning. One of those near-misses came when he lost a play-off to Jimenez in the 2008 BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth. He went on to earn a Ryder Cup debut later the same season, but lost his card last year.

“It would be nice not to have to rely on invites, but that’s the position I’m in,” he said after his 67. “Miguel’s been fantastic. It means a lot, especially when it’s another player.”


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