Fri Aug 24, 2012 4:52am IST * Harrington fires a 64 to lead by one * Keeps his faint Ryder Cup hopes alive * Woods cards a 68, McIlroy a 69 (Updates at end of round) Aug 23 (Reuters) - Tiger Woods overshadowed playing partnerRory McIlroy while Padraig Harrington stole the limelight bytaking overall command in Thursday's opening round of theBarclays tournament in Farmingdale, New York. Wielding a red-hot putter, Irishman Harrington covered hisfinal nine holes in a blistering six-under-par 29 to card aseven-under 64 in the first of the PGA Tour's four lucrativeFedExCup playoff events. In pursuit of his first victory on the U.S. circuit sincethe 2008 PGA Championship, three-times major winner Harringtonpiled up eight birdies and a lone bogey to finish a stroke infront of Americans Nick Watney and Brian Harman. Spaniard Sergio Garcia, who ended a four-year title droughton the PGA Tour by winning the rain-delayed Wyndham Championshipon Monday, was among a group of four on 66 while FedExCup pointsleader Woods opened with a 68 and McIlroy a 69. Harrington, who also has one eye this week on earning a latecall-up for the European Ryder Cup team, was delighted with hisputting on the challenging,nike air max shoes 7,468-yard Bethpage Black layout. "I've been playing well for quite a while, but this is thebest I've putted, the best I've struck my putts, the best I'verolled the ball for a long period of time," the 40-year-oldIrishman told reporters after taking only 26 putts. "We had super conditions today. Bethpage is a big, stronggolf course, and we got it on a very calm day, which was in ourfavour." Harrington conceded he had learned a valuable lesson aboutthe scoring possibilities at a venue which has staged two U.S.Opens from his American playing partner Troy Matteson, whoeagled the fourth hole. "Wow, an eagle! Imagine making an eagle at a U.S. Open,"smiled Harrington. "If anything, it really helped me because Icould see that, 'Hey, this wasn't a U.S. Open, there werebirdies to be made.' "So you have to get out of that mindset because level parisn't winning the tournament this week. It isn't a U.S. Open,"added the Irishman, who won The Barclays at Westchester in 2005and tied for second at Liberty National in 2009. SIZZLING FORM Harrington hopes his sizzling form at Bethpage will help himearn one of two wildcard picks by European Ryder Cup captainJose Maria Olazabal on Monday, though he accepts he is on theoutside looking in. "I'm sure if I went and had a look at the odds, I would be along-shot to make the team," the Irishman said. Olazabal latertold reporters at the European Tour's Johnnie WalkerChampionship in Scotland that Harrington would have to "at leastwin" at Bethpage to get picked. Woods, the only triple winner on the 2012 PGA Tour,expressed mixed views about his round after failing to make themost of soft, receptive conditions on a benign morning. "I didn't quite hit the ball as well as I would like," saidthe 14-times major winner who was followed by huge crowds as helaunched his title bid in the company of world number oneMcIlroy and 2007 Masters champion Zach Johnson. "I'm going to do some work this afternoon and work on acouple things that I know I need to shore up for tomorrow. ButI'm very pleased with the way I putted. I putted great today." Woods, who totaled 28 putts, ended the round level withfellow Americans Johnson and four-times major winner PhilMickelson, British Open champion Ernie Els of South Africa andformer world number one Luke Donald of England. Northern Irishman McIlroy, who clinched his second majortitle with a stunning eight-shot victory at the PGA Championshipearlier this month, was satisfied with his 69, despite losingmomentum after the turn. "It was good," the 23-year-old said after mixing fivebirdies with three bogeys. "I thought I played really solid,especially starting off, three under through six. "Got a little quiet around the middle of the round, and myshort game let me down a couple of times. It definitely couldhave been a few shots better, but I'm happy with how I played." (Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing byFrank Pingue) Golf

 


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