Padraig Harrington charges to lead at US Senior Open

Steve Stricker shot a two-under 69, and he is just behind Harrington at five under

Ireland’s Padraig Harrington, searching for his first career PGA Tour Champions victory, holds a one-shot lead after two rounds at the US Senior Open.

Harrington, 50, recorded a bogey-free, six-under-par 65 on Friday at Saucon Valley Country Club, leaving him at six-under 136 overall.

Steve Stricker shot a two-under 69, and he is just behind Harrington at five under. Another stroke back is Rob Labritz, who posted his second straight 69.

Gene Sauers (second-round 67), Rocco Mediate (71), first-round co-leader Jay Haas (72), Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee (69) and New Zealand’s Steven Alker (67) are tied for fourth at three under.

The other first-round co-leader, Australia’s Mark Hensby, shot a 73 on Friday, leaving him tied for ninth at two under. He is level with Doug Barron (68) and Germany’s Alex Cejka (69).

Harrington opened with a birdie at No. 10 and had two stretches of back-to-back birdies.

“I got under par early on,” he said. “I felt I lost my way a little bit in the middle of the round, and then I came back strong later on. You try a little too hard at times. It was nice to see I kind of got it back towards the end there where I felt pretty comfortable.”

A three-time major winner on the PGA Tour and European Tour, Harrington is off to a strong start in his first US Senior Open.

“It’s a much stronger test than I expected,” he said. “This is way, way tougher than our regular Champions tour events. I knew this was a big advantage to me starting the week, both lengthwise and being able to play from the rough if I am in the rough.”

Stricker opened with a birdie but then had a double bogey on the par-5 sixth hole. He followed with nine consecutive pars before finishing birdie-birdie-birdie.

“I had a couple of other opportunities on the back that I didn't make, but I told my brother-in-law, Mario, who was caddying for me, let's try to get one or two coming in the last three holes,” Stricker said. “I wasn't thinking three. Maybe I should have been.

“Yeah, I just wanted to get back to even really for the day and ended up birdieing the last three. It was a good way to finish the day.”

Defending champion Jim Furyk barely made the cut after shooting a 76. He tied for 54th at five over.