Harrington, the events defending champion, birdied the par-3 17th and par-4 18th holes Thursday to close with an 8-under-par 63 and take a one-shot lead over Scotlands Stephen Gallacher.
Im delighted, especially with the two birdies to finish, said a happy Harrington following his round. That always makes lunch taste better.
The Irishmans lunch was no doubt tasting good on Day 1, as he totaled eight birdies, an eagle and two bogies, which ' had it not been for preferred lies ' would have tied the course record set by Eduardo Romero and Seve Ballesteros.
Nevertheless, Harrington ended one better than Gallacher, and two better than three others, including local favorite Miguel Angel Jimenez, all of whom shot 65s.
While he has been playing some of the best golf of his career this season, Harringtons last official victory came at this event last year.
In 20 events for 2001 on the European Tour, he has amassed an incredible seven runner-up showings.
His last second came two weeks ago at the Cisco World Match Play Championship, when Ian Woosnam came from behind to beat him out of the title.
The story has been an ongoing affair for Harrington, yet he still stands at fourth on the Order of Merit list.
He trails Retief Goosen, who sits well atop the list due largely to his victory at this years United States Open Championship.
Goosen is making a bid to lock up his money title, and opened in fine form Thursday at Club de Campo, firing a 5-under 66 to be tied for sixth with six other golfers.
Said the South African: Im not entirely happy with the way Im hitting the ball at the moment, and I tried something different on every shot, so therefore Im very pleased with the score.
Click Here to See Full-Field Scores from the Telefonica Open de Madrid.