By Tim Price, PGATOUR.COM Correspondent
SAN ANTONIO -- He’s got a share of the early lead at the Valero Texas Open, but Padraig Harrington didn’t feel like he was on top Thursday after a 4-under 68 on the AT&T Oaks Course at TPC San Antonio.
“I’m not walking away from this round thinking ‘Wow, I hit a number of pure golf shots,’ or anything like that,” Harrington said. “It was more mental fortitude than ball striking.”
That certainly was the case when looking at Harrington’s play, which has him tied with Billy Horschel and one ahead of Jason Gore and Brian Davis.
He missed seven greens (Gore hit 14), but he got up-and-down from the bunker three times, which included a blast from the side of the par-5 14th that rolled to within a foot.
Harrington also had just 25 putts (same as Horschel), which could look really appealing if not for a three-putt from 34 feet on the 18th to end his round.
“A stinker of a putt,” Harrington said of the 4-footer coming back. “That was a pity. Takes the shine off the day. It wasn’t a difficult putt. As I got over it I stood off it once because the wind was gusting from my left, which it shouldn’t have been.”
The wind, which blowing at 20 mph at some points, played so much havoc with full shots but had its biggest effect on Harrington on his final putts of the day. Everything else he handled.
“Most of the time you’re hitting knock-down shots and three-quarter swings,” Harrington said.
The 68 is his best score of the year since an opening-round 64 in a ninth-place finish at the Waste Management Phoenix Open (he also shot 67 while finishing fourth at the Volvo Golf Championship in South Africa).
His biggest adjustment was getting used to the weather, which was about 50 degrees but felt colder with the north winds.
“I’m not under pressure to go out there and shoot 8 under,” he said. “This morning, early on, it was a battle of survival. Last week back in Ireland it was snowing and I didn’t feel this cold.
“There was a feeling of ‘Let’s just hang in there and stay in the tournament.’ Sometimes that lets you play a little bit more within yourself.”