Harrington leads in Florida

Padraig Harrington is the halfway leader at the Transitions Championship in Florida.

Padraig Harrington is the halfway leader at the Transitions Championship in Florida.
Four behind after his opening 69 at the Copperhead course in Palm Harbor, Ireland’s three-time major winner produced a six-under-par 65, his low round of the year, for an eight-under total.
With first-round leader Garrett Willis crashing to a 77 and making the cut with only a stroke to spare at level par, Harrington heads into the closing 36 holes one ahead of Americans Jim Furyk and Bubba Watson, Swede Carl Pettersson and defending champion Retief Goosen.
But World Match Play champion Ian Poulter bowed out on four-over after a second successive 73 in his final Tour event before next month’s Masters.
Poulter needed to play the last six holes in level par to make it through, but went into the lake at the short 13th and finished with two more bogeys.
Harrington, without a Tour win since he won back-to-back majors at The Open and US PGA two years ago, grabbed seven birdies.
Starting on the back nine the Dubliner, who missed Wednesday’s pro-am to attend a St Patrick’s Day dinner hosted by President Obama at the White House, pitched to two feet on the 11th and then struck a 185-yard approach to four feet at the 16th.
He then had to hole from only 20 inches, eight feet and 10 feet on the first, third and fifth greens and after his only dropped shot at the next he found the target from eight and 10 feet again at the seventh and ninth.
Harrington, joint third in the WGC-CA Championship in Miami on Sunday, was tied for top spot at that point, but in the group behind him Furyk bunkered his drive down the ninth and bogeyed to match Pettersson’s bogey-free 68.
“I’m capable of winning in the form I’m in,” said Harrington. “Am I in my best form? No. Am I getting there? Yes.
“You put yourself out there. That tests where your game is at. Some weeks the results happen and you get a win and some weeks they won’t.
“I’ve played tournaments where I’ve played great coming down the stretch and not won and I’ve played tournaments where I’ve played average and won.
“Because I don’t know so many of the shots here I have to keep hitting at the flags and it seems to be working quite nicely.
“The greens are superb and the wind was predictable, so it was a good morning for scoring.”
English pair Ross Fisher and Luke Donald are four-under and three-under respectively, with Scot Martin Laird one further back.
Greg Owen survived the cut on the limit by parring the last 13 holes, but Brian Davis missed by one after a closing bogey.
Justin Rose, 59th in the world and looking to climb into the top 50 in time for The Masters, kept that hope alive by improving five strokes on his opening 73 and moving to one under.