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Padraig Harrington encouraged by start to 2016 at Hyundai Tournament of Champions

Updated: Saturday, 09 Jan 2016 09:03 | Comments

Padraig Harrington's win at last seasons' Honda Classic earned him a trip to Hawaii
Padraig Harrington's win at last seasons' Honda Classic earned him a trip to Hawaii

Three-time major winner Padraig Harrington, who is five shots behind leader Patrick Reed after the first round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions, believes 2016 could well signal a return to form after an encouraging start to his year in Hawaii.

Harrington carded a three-under 70 in the first round of the Hyundai Tournament of Champions at Kapalua’s Plantation Course, parring each of his first eight holes before sparking to life with birdies on the ninth, 11th, 14th and 15th holes, while a bogey on the 18th saw him drop a shot.

The Dubliner starts the season on the back of an unprecedented nine-week break, during which he went under the surgeon’s knife to address a torn meniscus in his knee.

Harrington told the Golf Channel after his round: “Last year was quite a disappointing year for me. I didn’t play as well as I would have liked.

“But I liked what I saw today and that’s good enough for me, because it’s all about the moment and what you’re doing.

“I made a few changes during the winter and first week out I’m liking what I see and I hope that it will go from strength to strength during the season.”

Harrington has featured at six Ryder Cups but now finds himself 141st in the world rankings.

While not giving up hope of an unlikely spot on the European team later this year, the 44-year-old has admitted that his focus for the time being is very much on his own individual performances.

“It’s a big ask from the position I’m in,” he added.

“I’m going to have to have a big year.

“I’m literally going to have to win at least twice or a major.

“It really is going to have to be a big year for any guy to get into the Ryder Cup team.

“Especially as I’m not in those World Series events - I wasn’t in the ones at the end of last year.

“So as much as I’d like to play - and it’s a goal of mine - it’s not necessarily on my radar. I’ve got to go out and get a win under my belt and then I’ll start thinking about it.”

Meanwhile, Reed struck four birdies and an eagle in the final six holes to fire a 65 and take his place at the top of the leaderboard.

The four-time PGA Tour winner was well down the leaderboard after turning on two under, but was in scintillating form on the back nine, reeling off birdies at the 13th, 14th and 15th holes.

After hitting par at the 16th, he was back in the red with another birdie before bringing his round to a close with an eagle on the par-five 18th.

Reed's playing partner and world number one Jordan Spieth finished one shot behind on seven under after another blemish-free round, registering seven birdies.

Brandt Snedeker, JB Holmes and Danny Lee are all placed on six under while two-time Masters champion Bubba Watson is a further two behind after shooting 69.

World number two Jason Day did not enjoy as productive days as Reed and Spieth, but is still well-placed thanks to a bogey-free three under.

Graeme McDowell struck two double bogeys in his two-over-par 75.

A scintillating round of 64 from world number one Jordan Spieth gave him a four-shot second-round lead at the Hyundai Tournament of Champions in Hawaii.
Spieth, who started the day one shot behind first-round leader Patrick Reed, fired seven birdies and an eagle to go round in nine under par, 16 for the tournament.
The 22-year-old Texan went out in just 31 shots and is bogey-free in his first two rounds, looking a good bet to open the 2016 season with a seventh PGA Tour win.
"It was a similar round to yesterday," he said. "It is nice to have no blemishes on the card. I want to prepare and start the year with a bang, but I'm only through 36 holes, there's a long way to go.
"Sixteen under will be difficult to duplicate. For me it comes down to no bogeys, if I can keep them down then there is enough easy holes to get a good score."
Spieth disposed of Reed at the top of the leaderboard after the latter failed to match his first-round form, shooting 69 - four more than yesterday's round.
Reed is tied in second position with Kevin Kisner and Fabian Gomez at 12 under after both men made significant ground in the field.
Kisner went round in nine under while Gomez shot seven under to surge up the leaderboard.
Rickie Fowler is a further two shots back after firing six birdies in 67, while Bubba Watson is at nine under, with both men needing exceptional weekends if they are to catch Spieth.
Scotland's Russell Knox is tied in 21st - along with Jason Day - on three under while Graeme McDowell is a further two shots back in 29th.

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