Padraig Harrington fights through rain to seize PGA Tour Champions lead

Padraig Harrington has played through the rain plenty of times before. After all, he is Irish and has played professional golf for nearly three decades.

As such, the Dubliner carded a 4-under 67 on Saturday to grab the solo lead after two rounds of the Hoag Classic on the PGA Tour Champions. Considering the conditions early on in his round, Harrington’s score was impressive. Only two other players, Y.E. Yang and Ricardo Gonzalez, shot lower scores than he did, with the latter shooting a 7-under 64.

“It played great for me, I’ve got to say. Yeah, it was longer in places, but I was able to use my length quite a bit on a few holes,” Harrington said.

“I think the setup was perfect. I always prefer when the courses are a little softer off the tee; it makes it longer for everybody else, and I can open up my shoulders a bit more.”

The three-time major champion has plenty of distance off the tee, and he used that to his advantage on Saturday.

Padraig Harrington, PGA Tour Champions, Hoag Classic

Padraig Harrington reacts after making birdie on the 17th hole during the second round of the 2024 Hoag Classic.
Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

But after starting with two birdies over his first three holes, Harrington’s play tampered a bit, as he played the next 12 holes in 2-over.

“The first 14 holes were the opposite of yesterday. I seemed to play nicely and not score very well, but then those last four holes made up for it,” Harrington noted.

“And I was pushing hard over the last four holes. We don’t know what we’re going to get tomorrow, it was important to be tying the lead by the end of the day if not leading. I think I got my mindset a bit. Maybe making a bogey at 14 kind of kicked it off a little bit, but it was a nice way to finish.”

Harrington eagled the par-5 15th, made par at 16, and finished birdie-birdie at the par-3 17th and par-5 18th.

At the drop of a hat, the Irishman went from 8-under to 12-under to grab a one-shot lead over Thongchai Jaidee, who opened with a 9-under 62 on Friday and carded a 2-under 69 on Saturday.

Thongchai Jaidee, PGA Tour Champions, Hoag Classic

Thongchai Jaidee during the second round of the 2024 Hoag Classic.
Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

“I thought Thongchai played very well today. I didn’t think he made any mistakes, did everything well. I would expect him to go out and play well tomorrow,” Harrington said of Jaidee.

“You know, a one-shot lead over Thongchai is not enough; he seems to be playing very nicely. Yeah, in my head, I’m trying to think of 5, 6 under par would take the rest of the field out and would put a lot of work on Thongchai to keep up with that.”

A reporter then asked Harrington if he has a target score in mind on Sunday:

No, I just play each shot as it comes. If I’m in the lead, I’m always trying to take the field out of play. So, like for myself and Thongchai tomorrow, I’d love the two of us to play the front nine 4 under par, both of us, because then it’s between me and him for the last nine holes, and the field has got too much to do. That’s my attitude,” Harrington said.

“The last thing I want to do tomorrow is shoot level par and give 8, 9-unders, or even 7-unders a chance of competing. Hopefully, both of us play well, and we sort it out over those last four holes.”

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough for more golf coverage. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko as well.

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