Padraig`s Day as Harrington fires career-best 61

Ireland`s Padraig Harrington set a course record with a career-low 10-under-par 61 to grab a three-shot lead after the first round of the Transitions Championship on Thursday, sending a signal that his slump could be behind him.

Harrington enjoyed a bogey-free day at the Copperhead Course at Innisbrook in Palm Harbor, Florida, where he birdied his final three holes to move clear of American Will Claxton, who mixed five birdies with an eagle for a seven-under 64.

The Dubliner, who has not won on the PGA Tour or European Tour since 2008, has struggled to find his form of late but hit 14 greens and took 11 one-putts, including one on the 18th from 17 feet to finish in style.

"For a long time now, I play better on the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday than I do on the Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday," Harrington told reporters.

"I`m trying to stay patient. I know my game is good. One of the hardest things is to wait with confidence. I haven`t putted very well, certainly very inconsistent for the last year and it`s been showing up in my results."

World number two Luke Donald and fellow Englishman Justin Rose, who won the WGC-Cadillac Championship on Sunday, both shot four-under 67s.

Australian John Senden (66) extended his recent good form and is among a group of seven players, including American veteran Kenny Perry and Jim Furyk, who were five shots back in what were comfortable scoring conditions.

Harrington, a three-times major winner, missed out on last week`s tournament in Doral having slipped outside of the top 50 in the rankings and slumping down to 90th in the world.

The Irishman, whose last PGA Tour win was the 2008 PGA Championship, was 13th in the world as recently as May 2010, but says he never lost faith in his ability.

"I pride myself on being very strong mentally, but you know, it`s frustrating when your world ranking is slipping and I wasn`t playing Doral this year, I didn`t play in the Match Play - since they started that`s the first time I`ve missed them," said Harrington.

"It`s not like I could be working any harder or trying any harder, you just have to take it on the chin really. You feel like you`re good enough, but if your performances are not good enough -- you have no one else to blame."

Bureau Report