FRENCHMAN Grégory Bourdy continues to lead the Irish Open but Padraig Harrington is hard on his heels after the three-time Major Champion posted his second successive round of 67, much to the delight of the huge crowds who had gathered at Royal Portrush Golf Club.
Having compiled what he considered the finest round of his European Tour career on the opening day, Bourdy joked that his second day 67 was “maybe the second best round of my career” as he moved to 12 under par at the midway stage of the €2million event.
England’s Mark Foster is one stroke off the lead after a flawless round of 67, whilst his compatriot Paul Waring – playing his first European Tour event after a year-long absence with a wrist injury – is in a share of third place on ten under par alongside Italian Lorenzo Gagli (66) and Harrington (67).
Harrington was again taken aback by the record crowds in attendance, with 27,194 lining the fairways of the Dunluce Links to cheer on their heroes including Northern Ireland’s trio of Major champions, Darren Clarke (four under par), Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell (both five under) – all of whom comfortably made the cut.
Harrington said: “It sounded like an Open Championship coming down 18. The crowds were clapping us from 150 yards short of the green, as they were all day. Particularly on the last six holes, when the rain went away and the umbrellas went down, there was rapturous applause and cheering as we approached the green.
“It’s unique, and it’s great to see. I think all of the players, especially the players down the rankings, aren’t used to this, so they really appreciate it.
“We all appreciate it, because it’s great to play golf tournaments amongst big crowds.”
The roars will be deafening if Harrington can win the Irish Open for a second time, but a certain Frenchman is determined to gate-crash the party.