Three-time Major Champion Padraig Harrington remains in the hunt for the title at the halfway stage of the D+D Real Czech Masters in Prague.
Despite much tougher conditions on day two, Harrington ground out a score as only he can and flew home with three birdies in his closing five holes to sit just two shots off the lead on ten-under-par at Albatross Golf Resort.
“It was a nice finish with three birdies in the last five holes and I made a couple of up and downs which is nice,” reflected Harrington who missed on his full PGA Tour playing privileges after missing the cut last week at the Wyndham.
“I’m very happy. The conditions were tougher, obviously it was raining early on and it was a much tougher day because the par fives weren’t as accessible as yesterday so I’m very pleased with the score.”
Harrington has now clocked eleven birdies and just the one dropped shot at the tournament to date and his four-under-par round of 68 proved particularly pleasing given the elements that faced the field on day two in Prague.
“It was substantially longer today, a slight difference in the direction of the wind but it was cooler and stronger and a sterner test. But the greens are still good and softer now with the rain so if you get yourself in position there are birdies to be made. It’s a tougher test off the tee though.”
“This is where you want to be with 36 holes to go and we might have got the right side of the draw too so hopefully I’ll be there or thereabouts. My caddie is on holidays and I wasn’t planning to be here, I came at late notice so it’s interesting because it’s different conversations out there and different chat. Obviously it’s not quite as comfortable at times and there’s a little more working out to be done, but it can be refreshing having somebody else there as well.”
At the top, Gavin Green moved into the outright lead at the halfway stage but he will have to fend off a strong chasing pack, which includes Harrington and Ryder Cup hopeful Thomas Pieters, if he is to claim a maiden European Tour title.
“Thomas has played very nicely. Obviously on the last couple of holes he dropped a shot and he could have put himself out at 12 or 13 under par, but he’s in a good position for the weekend. It’s irrelevant whether you’re ten or 11 or 12 under, it’s all down to how you play at the weekend, that will determine who will win the tournament,” added Harrington.
The 24-year-old Green became the first Malaysian to top the Asian Tour Order of Merit last year, earning his European Tour card for the first time in the process, but he belied his inexperience at Albatross Golf Resort as he carded seven birdies in a four under second round 68.
That earned him a 12-under-total, one shot clear of Jeff Winther of Denmark, who matched Green’s second round score thanks to six birdies and two bogeys.
Two shots back iss a four-strong contingent comprising Harrington, Italy’s Andrea Pavan, Finn Tapio Pulkkanen and former champion Pieters – who continues to impress as he eyes a wildcard selection for Thomas Bjørn’s European Ryder Cup team. Eddie Pepperell is the only man in the field capable of potentially breaking into the automatic qualification spots at the conclusion of the penultimate week in the Ryder Cup points race, and he remains in the frame despite falling five shots off the pace following a one under 71.
Matt Wallace, meanwhile, is one of only four multiple winners on the European Tour this year but he would become the only three-time winner of the season if he were to triumph in Prague. The Englishman enters the weekend just three shots back after the round of the day, a seven-under-par 65.
Unfortunately there was no luck for Gavin Moynihan (-2) and Paul McBride (+5) who both fell short of a particularly demanding cut-mark at four under par.