Padraig Harrington, 45, co-leads at Scottish Open

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Padraig Harrington, 45, co-leads at Scottish Open

Euro Tour

Padraig Harrington, 45, co-leads at Scottish Open

With the Open Championship returning to Royal Birkdale next week, it’s fitting that this man’s name would be atop the leaderboard.

Padraig Harrington fired a 4-under 68 on Friday at Dundonald Links to jump to 9 under and a share of the lead at the Aberdeen Asset Management Scottish Open. The 45-year-old hasn’t made a ton of headway since winning three majors in 2007 and ’08, but he has shown spurts in recent years.

Harrington captured the Honda Classic in 2015 and followed up last year with a victory at the European Tour’s Portugal Masters.

Still, this is especially nice to see after Harrington had to withdraw from the FedEx St. Jude Classic last month following a freak accident while instructing an amateur player.

Harrington has since posted a T-17 at the Travelers Championship and a T-42 at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open. And with two more stellar rounds in Scotland, Harrington is really rounding into form.

As we mentioned above, the timing couldn’t be better. Birkdale is the site of Harrington’s 2008 Open win – which marked the final of his three major triumphs.

Harrington is indeed in the field next week, and considering his performance through two rounds in Scotland … who’s to say a recapturing of that old magic at Birkdale isn’t in the cards?

Of course there’s still this tournament to focus on. Harrington is tied at the top with Callum Shinkwin and Alexander Knappe (who played a five-hole stretch in 6 under early in his round on his way to a 65).

Ian Poulter remained in contention thanks to a 69 that boosted him to 8 under. Rickie Fowler, the 2015 champion here, is among those in a tie for sixth at 7 under. Matt Kuchar sits T-9 at 6 under, while first-round leader Mikko Ilonen drops to T-11 at 5 under after a second-day 74.

Henrik Stenson, the defending Open champion, is T-20 at 3 under. Rory McIlroy, meanwhile, went 74-71 to miss the cut. That’s three early exits in his last four starts.

Harrington is looking to secure his 16th European Tour victory.

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