Happy Harrington hits route 66 on opening day in Scotland

Bernie McGuire
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Happy Harrington hits route 66 on opening day in Scotland

Padraig Harrington in action in Scotland (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

Padraig Harrington took route 66 to jump straight into contention on day one of the inaugural Scottish Championship near St. Andrews.

Harrington, wrapped-up under four layers, snatched seven birdies in a six-under par score to be sharing fourth place and four adrift of Spaniard Adrian Otaegui.

Otaegui, 27 is a two-time European Tour winner and posted 10 birdies in his sizzling round on the Torrance course at the Fairmont Resort just to the east of the Auld Grey Toon.

Harrington finds himself tied with three English golfers including new ASI Scottish Open winner, Aaron Rai.

Europe’s Ryder Cup Captain is back in Scotland for a second in three weeks having finished T9th behind Rai on the opposite side of the Firth of Forth at the Renaissance Club near Gullane.

He was level par through five holes thanks to a birdie on two but a bogey on three before birdies at the sixth and ninth holes moved him to two-under par.

Harrington then birdied four of his closing seven holes and after missing the cut in his return to competition at the recent Irish Open, Harrington has since been a picture of consistency.

“I couldn’t be happier with how I’m playing at this stage,” he said.

“It’s just a mental thing when you haven’t been on the golf course. I liked what I saw the first three weeks, that’s why I’m here for the fourth week.

“Today, it was pretty steady as I drove the ball well, so you’re going to have opportunities if you do that.

“I also hit my irons well, which I hadn’t been doing. I didn’t chip well. A couple of those short par fours on the front nine, the dropped shot on the third hole, were all poor chip shots. I made up for it later in the round.

“My back nine, certainly my last ten holes, I scored nicely on. Those first eight holes I probably hit four or five weak chips but then I just need to try to be a bit more committed tomorrow.

“That would normally be my strong point, but whatever. Hopefully that’s not going to be the way for the next three days and I’ll chip it a bit better.

“There are plenty of opportunities on these par fives and par fours to get the ball in and around the green in one under regulation, so if you hit a good chip you’re making a birdie”.

Next best of the five Irish is Jonathan Caldwell after posting a two-under 70 in his first event back on the Tour since the Irish Open.

Gavin Moynihan reached the turn at three-under par but then dropped three shots over his inward half in a level par 72, with Cormac Sharvin, who was two-under at the turn, eventually signing for a 74.

And Niall Kearney was off to a horror start in dropping to five-over after just four holes in an eventual 73.

Spain’s Otaegui is the man to catch and takes a three shot lead into the second round after an impressive bogey-free opening round of 62.

A hat trick of birdies at the beginning of both nines helped the two-time European Tour winner set a target of ten under par at Fairmont St Andrews, with Englishman Matt Wallace and Bryce Easton of South Africa his closest challengers at seven-under par.

“Almost everything worked today,” he said. “I started with three birdies and I played very well from tee to green, felt confident and relaxed. Almost everything went well today. 62 is really, really good.

“I felt like a good round could come, I didn’t know how good but the last two weeks, even if the results were not very good, I was playing very well from tee to green and feeling good. But the putting wasn’t there. Today the putting did go well. Same putter, just changed my stance and my grip a little bit.

“I was feeling good in the practice days, but until you play a tournament you don’t know what’s going to happen. I played the same from tee to green, but the putter was hot today. That was the main difference.”

Full scoring HERE

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