herald

Tuesday 21 November 2017

Padraig shows mental strength

But McIlroy pays penalty in Gulf as Maybin keeps pace

PADRAIG HARRINGTON was satisfied with his 71 at the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship yesterday, but his 69 today will have him beaming as his trial week with mental coach David Alred seems to be paying off.

Alred has transformed Englishman Luke Donald into a world-beater as he topped the ranking on both sides of the Atlantic last season and he seems to be having an effect on major winner Harrington already.

Harrington’s second round today included four birdies in a row, from the first hole to the fourth, as he left himself three shots off the pace set by Dane Thorbjorn Olesen, who shot a 67 today to go with Thursday’s 70, leaving him with the clubhouse lead on seven under.

Harrington, without a European Tour win since 2008, started his round at the 10th hole and the highlight was the run of four birdies in a row from the first.

“I rolled the ball really nicely on the greens out there,” said the 40-year-old Irishman. “Nearly every putt I took I gave the hole a scare.

“I've been saying for a while I'm confident my game is coming back but I saw some great signs today. I made some quality strikes on a lot of shots.”

Careless

Meanwhile, Rory McIlroy incurred a careless two-stroke penalty to put a dent in his title hopes.

Joint top overnight with Swede Robert Karlsson, the US Open champion had come back from a shaky start with three birdies when his rules blunder came on the 456-yard ninth. Just off the green in two, McIlroy made the mistake of brushing away sand that was not on the putting surface and the penalty was imposed after a referee had been called.

The 22-year-old world number three was level par for his round today thanks to six birdies and two bogeys and one double bogey as well as his penalty. Tiger Woods shot a 69 to go to five under with McIlroy

Fellow countryman Gareth Maybin was just one off the clubhouse lead of Olesen after his round of 70.

Sergio Garcia's revival gathered pace as he moved firmly into contention in the second round with the same score as Harrington. And he was in superb form coming back out today with perfect playing conditions allowing him to shoot a three-under-par 69. But if Garcia was enjoying the warm Gulf sunshine, the same could not be said for playing partner Martin Kaymer.

Kaymer – winner three of the last four years – missed the cut after improving only four shots on his opening 77.

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