Triple Major winning Padraig Harrington has thrown down the gauntlet to his Irish Open rivals declaring he’s determined to steam roll those in front and deliver a second Irish Open victory.
The 40-year old Harrington posted a second straight 67 to move into a four-way share of third place on 11-under par at Royal Portrush.
Frenchman Gregory Bourdy (67) continues to head the field on 12-under par and one clear of Worksop’s Mark Foster (67).
Harrington hasn’t won a main Tour event in nearly four years and is desperate to savour success that could lead to a seventh straight Ryder Cup cap.
The Dubliner made the journey north to Portrush lying 22nd on the Ryder Cup points table while his current No. 69 world ranking is a far cry from a career high of ‘3’ some three-and-half years ago.
“It’s hard to go and deliver in any tournament, let alone deliver in a major tournament when you have to,” said Harrington.
“So I’m not going to put myself under that pressure.
“I have won three Majors, and I’ll win more in the future if I just be patient and let it happen.
“I know other wins are around the corner and they tend to come like buses, when you get one, a few more arrive very quickly.”
But with the weight of Ireland now behind him heading to the weekend, nothing would delights Harrington more than being the one chasing the leaders.
“Chasing is so much easier and it’s just an easy way of playing golf,” he said smiling.
“It’s very hard to be the leader out there when you’ve got the spotlight on you. You have nothing to lose chasing, but to be able to take the lead and go on with it, takes a bit of courage.
McIlroy, competing in his last event before the July 19th commencing Open Championship, at least bounced back from missing the cut in his U.S. Open defence in carding a 69 for a five under par tally.
“It’s definitely getting closer, and I definitely feel like I’ve made a couple of big strides forward since the U.S. Open,”he said.
“So as long as I continue to work on it and keep doing the right things then I’m right on track.
”And this week is going to put me in good stead for Lytham, so playing a tournament like this with conditions like this on this golf course can only be good.”