Harrington falters but stays in hunt at Irish Open

Harrington in action surrounded by the stunning scenery at Royal County Down

Harrington in action surrounded by the stunning scenery at Royal County Down

Padraig Harrington had an up and down day but he stays in touch after his second round at Royal County Down

Three-time major winner Padraig Harrington appeared to be doing everything in his power to ensure his prediction of a home winner came true as the Irish Open resumed at a windswept Royal County Down on Friday.

Former champion Harrington predicted on Wednesday that an Irish player would lift the trophy on Sunday, with world number one Rory McIlroy seemingly the most likely contender.

But while McIlroy faced an uphill battle to avoid a third straight cut in the event after crashing to an opening 80, Harrington claimed a share of the overnight lead with Germany's Max Kieffer with an opening 67.

And after starting his second round on the back nine with a run of six pars, Harrington picked up his first birdie of the day on the 16th to move into the outright lead on five under par.

Harrington holed from 15 feet for birdie on the 17th to extend his lead and missed from just six feet for an eagle on the par-five first, but the tap-in birdie took him further ahead of the chasing pack.

However, the Dubliner slipped off top spot after the turn. A bogey on the second, his 11th, was followed by a double bogey on the third and another dropped shot on the fourth.

But Harrington rallied back, and a birdie on the short Par 3 seventh put him back on top at -4.

Sadly for Harrington, he finished poorly with bogeys on his 17th and 18yj hols (eight and nine) to post a round of 73, two over par for the day and two under for the tournament.

That leaves Harrington two off the lead held by Scot Richie Ramsey.

As for 2009 winner Shane Lowry, he could be heading for an unwanted free weekend. After a broken putter he hit a run of three bogeys in four holes and that dropped him back to four over par.

Two birdies got him back under the projected cut but another dropped shot on the fourth left the Offaly man still dicing with dnager.

And yet another birdie, followed by yet anaother bogey, left Lowry facing an uncertain wait this afternoon as he sits on four over, right on the projected cut.

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