Harrington attempts to bounce back at Players Championship

May 11, 2007 - 5:11 PM By Andrew Both PA SportsTicker Golf Writer

PONTE VEDRA, Florida (Ticker) -- Padraig Harrington continued his attempt at a comeback during the second round of the Players Championship on Friday.

In danger of missing the cut after shooting a 4-over-par 76 in the first round, Harrington teed off Friday knowing he needed to shoot par or thereabouts to be sure of surviving for the final two rounds at the Sawgrass TPC. And the Irishman appeared on the way to accomplishing that as he picked up three strokes in 13 holes in relatively benign morning conditions.

Harrington made a dream start with two birdies in his first three holes, a near tap-in birdie at the par-5 11th followed by a 20-footer at the par-4 12th. A bogey at the easy par-5 16th, where he three-putted, stalled his momentum but he safely negotiated the famous par-3 17th without dropping a shot.

His good form continued on his inward half as he collected two more birdies to go 3-under for the day and 1-over for the tournament with four holes of his round left.

Colin Montgomerie also shot 76 on Thursday and there was little to cheer about early in his second round as he dropped one shot on the front nine to turn at 5-over. He needs a major transformation over the next nine holes to make the cut.

Greg Owen came home strongly, picking up three shots on his back nine, but it was too little, too late as he carded a 78 for an 11-over 155.

Spaniard Jose Maria Olazabal was faring considerably better. He bogeyed his first hole, the par-4 10th, before picking up eight birdies in the next 12 holes, with a bogey thrown into the mix.

The two-time Masters champion is renowned for his great putting, and he certainly showed it by sinking a couple of monsters - a 50-footer at the par-3 17th and a 30-footer at the par-4 fourth. He also holed out from off the green at the par-3 third. Unfortunately, Olazabal had a lot of ground to make up after an opening 78.

Meanwhile, Australian Peter Lonard briefly took the outright lead, before a double bogey at his 13th hole, the par-4 fourth, brought his run to a screeching halt.

Lonard dropped back to 4-under with a large group including Sweden's Carl Pettersson (12 holes) and American Jim Furyk (15 holes) one stroke behind first-round leaders Phil Mickelson and Rory Sabbatini, who had late tee times after carding 67s on Thursday.

Brian Davis, the leading British player at 1-under, had a late tee time, as did world No. 1 Tiger Woods, who opened with a disappointing 75.

After Thursday's extremely strong and gusty winds, players were given something of a reprieve early Friday. A breeze of less than 15 miles per hour was a welcome change for many players after Thursday's windy conditions.

The average first round score was 75.4, while the early second round average was nearly three shots better.

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