Harrington played the final 12 holes of second round Saturday morning, and despite closing with a pair of bogeys he shot a 4-under 66 and leads by one shot over Patrick Reed as he looks to win on the PGA Tour for the first time since 2008.
“It’s nice to be in contention,” Harrington said. “I’m very positive about my game coming in here this week. I don’t know what’s going to happen the next 36 holes, but I have a good idea where I’m going. I’m pretty confident.”
Harrington has missed five cuts in eight prior starts this season, with his best result coming at last week’s Northern Trust Open, where he finished T-56. Things started to click for the Irishman over the weekend at Riviera, and he has carried that spark into this week, where he has opened with rounds of 67 and 66 on the difficult Champion Course.
“I turned the corner with my putting maybe last August, and in many ways, I’ve been trying to figure out how to use that to get into my long game,” he said. “Did seem to find it Saturday afternoon last week, and I felt a lot better about things.”
Harrington resumed his second round four shots behind Brendan Steele, but he made an early move with birdies on Nos. 16 and 17. He added three birdies in a row on Nos. 4-6 to reach 9 under and briefly take a three-shot advantage before bogeys on Nos. 8 and 9 trimmed his advantage to a single shot.
Harrington won the Honda a decade ago, when the event was played across the street from PGA National at the Country Club of Mirasol. While he hasn’t lifted a trophy on Tour since the 2008 PGA Championship, he did win in December on the Asian Tour to end a four-year worldwide winless drought.
Now in the pole position with 36 holes to go, he expects his strong play this week to mark the beginning of a more promising trend of results.
“Obviously I want to be at the top of the leaderboard and I want to be trying to win tournaments. Five tournaments ago I won, so it’s not like it’s an alien feeling for me,” Harrington said. “I think I’m in a good place that I can deliver more performances like this. So I’m not panicked about going out and it all having to happen this weekend.”