Padriag Harrington (file pic). SIPA USA/PA Images
In Contention

Defending champion Harrington makes solid start in Portugal as he eyes history

In the ten-year history of the Portugal Masters, the title has never been successfully defended

Updated 21.30

PADRAIG HARRINGTON HAS made a promising start to his title defence at the Portugal Masters, carding a 67 earlier to sit three off the joint first-round leaders.

Currently four under, the Dubliner enjoyed a pleasing day one, hitting four birdies in six holes.

In the ten-year history of the tournament, the title has never been successfully defended — so all eyes are on Harrington to potentially etch his name into history following a solid start.

“It brings more stress,” Harrington told Sky Sports on the challenge to retain his title.

“It’s not as easy to play a tournament as defending champion. Not that many people tend to win the return.

“I worked my way around the golf course very well. It was not my best ball-striking round but I didn’t get myself in trouble all day.”

Harrington is 110th on the Race to Dubai standings, and will need to move up into the top 70 to be invited to the Turkish Airlines Open, which takes place in November.

The Netherland’s Joost Luiten and South Africa’s George Coetzee take a one-shot lead into the second after finishing tied on seven under after 18 holes in Vilamoura.

The pair both signed for rounds of 64 as the majority of the field enjoyed good scoring conditions.

Meanwhile, Shane Lowry finished two-under with a birdie on the last, while Northern Ireland’s Chris Selfridge is three-over-par.

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