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Dublin: 4 °C Tuesday 19 February, 2019
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Harrington rebounds from loss of Tour card to mount challenge at Czech Masters

Meanwhile, there’s a four-way tie for the lead at the first FedEx Cup event in New Jersey.

Harrington is back in action on the European Tour this week.
Harrington is back in action on the European Tour this week.
Image: Ross Kinnaird

PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON BRUSHED the disappointment of losing his PGA Tour card aside to put himself in strong contention for a first win in two years at the Czech Masters.

The three-time Major winner missed the cut at last week’s Wyndham Championship to surrender his full playing rights in America next season, but has rebounded impressively in Prague.

Following Thursday’s opening-round 66, Harrington moved to within two shots of the leader — currently Gavin Green of Malaysia — heading into the weekend, as he sits on 10-under par.

The Dubliner carded five birdies during Friday’s round, including a three on the first and another on his final hole — the par five ninth — after a nice wedge approach with his third and well-judged putt back down the hill.

Harrington is sitting in a tie for third alongside Finland’s Tapio Pulkkanen, Thomas Pieters of Belgium, Italian Andrea Pavan and Englishman Aaron Rai, with Green two shots further ahead on 12-under par.

Meanwhile, FedEx Cup leader Dustin Johnson and US PGA Championship winner Brooks Koepka are one shot off the pace after the opening round of The Northern Trust.

Jamie Lovemark, Kevin Tway, Sean O’Hair and Vaughn Taylor all carded five-under-par 66s to set the early pace at the opening FedEx Cup play-off event in New Jersey on Thursday.

The top 125 from the regular-season FedEx Cup standings qualified for this week’s opener, with only the top 100 advancing after The Northern Trust.

World number one and reigning Northern Trust champion Johnson tops the play-off standings with three PGA Tour wins this season, ahead of Justin Thomas, Koepka, Justin Rose and Bubba Watson.

Bidding to go back-to-back at the tournament, having survived a sudden-death play-off last year, Johnson was almost flawless on day one at Ridgewood Country Club.

Johnson — who almost nailed a hole-in-one on the par-three sixth — had seven birdies, with his only blemish coming via a triple-bogey on the par-five 17th.

The American star is in a logjam for fifth spot alongside 12 others, including three-time Major winner Koepka.

Seamus Power, who retained his PGA Tour card last week, carded a level par round of 71 to sit in a tie for 60th.

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Ryan Bailey

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