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Friday, 19 March 2010
Reuters - Padraig Harrington overcame strong winds and the pressure of being the home favourite to take the early second round lead in the Irish Open.

Harrington, who has shot a 63 at Adare Manor in the JP McManus Pro-Am before the course was lengthened, equalled the European Tour record at the Limerick course with his four under par 68 taking him a shot ahead of the field on 141.

Knowing high winds were likely to disrupt the tournament on a layout already proving a tough prospect, officials shaved 322 yards off the course. It had originally been laid out to 7,453 yards, the fifth longest on the European Tour.

That was 76 yards more than for the first round.

Even at 7,131 yards, though, it did not prevent scores from billowing up dramatically.

By early afternoon Harrington's return of five birdies and one bogey took him ahead of joint overnight leader Andres Romero of Argentina (74), Britain's Simon Wakefield (72) and Swede Joakim Backstrom (71) for the clubhouse lead.

Harrington, last year's European Tour Number One and current World Number 12, missed a four-foot putt on his final hole, the ninth, but the Dubliner was satisfied with his morning's work.

"The wind doesn't bother me," Harrington said. "I know I have an advantage in the sort of weather that causes them to push some of the tees up.

"I prefer to have a more challenging tee-shot. I didn't put myself under any stress at all."

Harrington is attempting to be the first Irishman to win his national Open since John O'Leary in 1982 and he rated the event only behind the four majors as the tournament he would most like to win.

"I'm going to play it down in my head, try to absolutely control my emotions. It would be a great achievement if I could go out over the next two days knowing I want to win so badly and yet play and behave like it's a regular event."

Swede Peter Gustafsson, another first round leader, included two double-bogeys in a 75 but stayed only two shots off Harrington's lead. Simon Dyson of England, another of the four first round leaders, slid down the field, though, with a 78.

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Tournament Leaderboard

Pos Player nameNatHolePar
T1HARRINGTON, PadraigIRL18-5
T1DREDGE, BradleyWAL18-5
3WAKEFIELD, SimonENG18-1
T4GREEN, RichardAUS18Par
T4OOSTHUIZEN, LouisRSA18Par
T4ROMERO, AndresARG18Par
R2D Fantasy

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