Ireland's Padraig Harrington believed he was still capable of completing a rare hat-trick of British Open titles, despite flirting with the cut line in second round.
|Padraig Harrington makes the cut and aims much higher [AFP]
The world number 14 carded a four-over-par 74 in difficult, windy conditions on Turnberry's Ailsa Course, finishing right on the projected cut at three-over 143.
"I wasn't thinking about making the cut," three-times major winner Harrington told reporters after making his only birdie of the day at the par-five 17th.
"I was thinking I'm eight shots behind (the leader). That's not insurmountable on the weekend on a links golf course, especially like this."
The early lead was held by little-known American Steve Marino, who fired a 68 for a five-under aggregate of 135.
Harrington's biggest reason for optimism was the progress of his game after working hard with swing coach Bob Torrance.
"I've changed three things in my backswing and three things on my downswing, and I started off trying to change one," the 37-year-old said with a broad grin.
Last piece of puzzle
"I think some of the stuff I worked on here at the start of the week definitely could be the last piece of the jigsaw in what I've been trying to do.
"I felt like the ball was coming right out of the middle of the club all day the last two days," added the Dubliner, who arrived here after missing his last five cuts on the PGA and European tours.
"I really was very happy with my ball striking, just need to be a little bit more trusting. It has been ... a good fix."
Harrington, who won his first British Open in a playoff with Sergio Garcia at Carnoustie in 2007 before successfully defending his title at Royal Birkdale last year, also believed his putting was close to clicking.
"If I look back at it, I think the longest putt I holed was two feet out there," he said after totalling 29 putts in the round.
"I'm putting well, the ball is running at the holes, so sooner or later it will drop.
"I know I'm running out of holes, 36 to go, but if they (the putts) start dropping, I'll shoot some good scores.
"The only thing good about playing the weekend is that I can win the tournament and the more rounds of golf I play, the better."