Padraig Harrington of Ireland watches his approach on the seventh hole on his way to a 10-under 61 in the first round of the Transitions Championship.
PALM HARBOR, Fla. (AP) – Padraig Harrington knew he was playing better golf than his scores indicated. He just wasn't expecting the lowest official score of his life, a 10-under 61 to set the course record Thursday in the Transitions Championship.
Harrington took a step toward ending 17 months and 37 tournaments without a victory when he made 10 birdies, including a 75-footer late in his round, to build a three-shot lead among the early starters at Innisbrook.
"I play better on the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday than I do on the Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday," Harrington said. "I'm trying to stay patient. I know my game is good. One of the hardest things is to wait with confidence. I'm feeling like things are ready to happen. Obviously, today it showed the potential. Today is a peak. But we'll wait and see what happens over the next number of weeks."
With a 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th — how could it not go in the way his day was going? — he broke by one shot the record at the esteemed Copperhead Course at Innisbrook that had been held by Mark Calcavecchia in 2007 and Jeff Sluman in 2004.
Harrington's previous best was a 62 three times, most recently at the 2009 Portugal Masters. He also had a 61 at the Nedbank Challenge in 2001, an unofficial event. It was not recognized as a course record because of preferred lies.
Not only was Harrington three shots better than anyone else, it was nearly 8.7 shots better than the course average.