Harrington finds form with strong opening 67 in Scotland

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Padraig Harrington (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images)

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Padraig Harrington was pleased to take advantage of benign conditions on day one of the abrdn Scottish Open, signing for a four-under par 67 that leaves him just three strokes back of the overnight lead.

The three-time Major winner, who’s missed four cuts on the spin since his share of fourth place at the PGA Championship, should have no such worries this week after carding five birdies and just a single bogey that left him in a share of 14th ahead of an afternoon tee-time on Friday (1.40pm).

Rory McIlroy and Cormac Sharvin begin their second rounds this morning a shot outside the current projected cut-mark of two-under after the pair returned mixed bag one-under par 70s. Graeme McDowell managed no birdies in his two-over 73 while also up against it is Clandeboye’s Jonathan Caldwell who was two-under through five holes before signing for a three-over 74.

Englishman Jack Senior has the world’s best players at his heels as he takes a one stroke lead into the second Rolex Series event on the 2021 Race to Dubai. Senior fired a seven-under par round of 64 at the Renaissance Club to sit one shot ahead of reigning Race to Dubai champion Lee Westwood and former World Number One Justin Thomas.

“It’s a great field but at the end of the day, you’re still out there playing the golf course,” said Senior. “Doesn’t matter how good the field is or anything like that. All you can do is control what you’re doing and try and do your best on the golf course and not particularly worry about the field. If I consistently hit golf shots out there and try to perform to the best of my ability, I’m sure it might stand me in good stead.”

Thomas, making his return to Scotland’s Golf Coast after a T9 finish at this event in 2019, carded a flawless round of 65, which included a 90-foot eagle putt on the par five seventh. Westwood, winner of the Scottish Open in 1998, was also bogey free.

“Obviously 6-under is great,” he said. “I’d love that every round of golf I play. Bogey-free made it pretty stress-free. I was a little upset or disappointed with some of the iron shots I hit. Felt I could have hit them closer but nice to play that last hole as well as I did to hopefully generate some momentum.

“Playing with fans is incredible. I was so excited when we had them at THE PLAYERS for the first time a couple months ago, but the fans here are awesome. They are so passionate and respectful. We were joking it’s nice to get some claps when you hit a 5-iron to 30 or 40 feet.”

World Number One and U.S. Open Champion Jon Rahm is amongst a group of nine players on five under par, joining Ryder Cup teammates Tommy Fleetwood and Ian Poulter and two-time Rolex Series winner Matt Fitzpatrick in a tie for fourth.

“It can be difficult to follow a tournament after accomplishing something big like I did (winning the U.S. Open),” said Rahm. “I did take some time off after the win and getting back into it, it’s a little bit easier in Arizona when it’s warm, the body is warm and very low air density, the ball goes very straight and very far. It can be a challenge, long flight, but it gets a little tight coming to a course where the wind will move the ball a lot and you know, little mistakes could be magnified quite a bit, right.

“So I didn’t have my best feel out there, but after the first tee shot, which was probably about as bad a tee shot as I can hit, feeling-wise, as well, I just told myself really trust the visualization process, see the shot, trust the shot and trust that your body can do it, and it really worked out. Sometimes you’ve just got to get out of your own way.”

Four Scotsmen sit one shot further back amongst the group on four under par, with Grant Forrest, David Law, Richie Ramsay and Connor Syme all carding rounds of 67.

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