Pádraig Harrington shoots course record 64 to take early lead in Senior PGA Championship

Pádraig Harrington plays his shot from the sixth tee during the first round of the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship at Fields Ranch East in Frisco, Texas

Brian Keogh

Pádraig Harrington was so entertained by Rocco Mediate and his caddie he didn't realise he'd shot a course-record 64 to grab the early lead in the KitchenAid Senior PGA Championship in Dallas.

The three-time Major winner and reigning US Senior Open champion made eight birdies (and nine threes) in a sensational opening effort on the East Course at Fields Ranch at PGA Frisco to lead by two shots in the clubhouse from Japan's Katsumasa Miyamoto.

Mediate's caddie Pete Bender (74) helped Ian Baker-Finch and Greg Norman win The Open and also caddied for Jack Nicklaus, Raymond Floyd and Lanny Wadkins, to name just a few, in a

"It was a good day," Harrington said. "Everything worked well. Hit the ball well off the tee, particularly straight off the tee, which helps. I think I holed a couple of putts at the right time.

"I don't expect it to be like this now the next three days, but it was an easy 64. In some ways, the reason it was an easy 64 is because when you're playing with somebody like Rocco, there's always a bit of chat, and there's always a bit of fun going on, so you're quite relaxed.

"And that really does make a difference to how you feel about your shots and things like that. So it's something as professionals we always need to keep reminding ourselves, but when you get a situation like this, and it's showing again, you know, just being out there, chilling, telling stories, the odd joke.

"Rocco's caddie, he's caddied for the greats, so we were quizzing him as we were going around. So there was just plenty of conversation. And you end up shooting 64, and you go, oh, what, you know, you'd nearly forgotten about your score."

Harrington made a 35-footer at the second he said got him "up and running", then birdied the third, sixth and ninth to turn in 32.

He then chipped in for birdie on the 10th before finishing with birdies on the 15th, 16th and 18th.

He felt underprepared for last week's PGA Championship at Oak Hill, where he tied for 50th.

But after taking a two-shot clubhouse lead over Miyamoto, he was happy with his day and the company of the legendary Bender.

"We were actually grading putters," said Harrington, who played with Mediate and defending champion Steven Alker. "Who was the best putter? Who was the best ball striker? I didn't realise he had caddied for Ian Baker-Finch, and he felt Ian Baker-Finch, for that moment in time, was the best putter he ever saw.

"Crenshaw was the best looking stroke, everything about it. Fascinating with Jack always birdieing the 18th hole. He would always hole a putt on the 18th even though he didn't put it very well up at that time. So it was just lots of good conversation.

"And you would be surprised; not a lot of people have seen those generations all the way through. To go back and really have seen the guys who played in the '80s, you know, I could say I went out and watched the Irish Open and saw these guys play, but to know the difference, let's say, to be a caddie out here and to know the difference between the players, it was nice.

"And as I said, that was very much part of the round, just was very nice, relaxed round. Conditions were obviously ideal this morning. So, yeah. It's nice when they go like that.

"Like, as I said, I don't expect the next 54 holes to be as comfortable. But a good start is no harm. Be a long week for me now.”

He certainly impressed joker Mediate with his swing speed: "When he takes his practice swings sometimes our hats will move."

While Darren Clarke was among the later starters, Paul McGinley signed for a one-over 73.

The Dubliner bogeyed the par-five first and third holes but birdied the seventh and eighth and followed a bogey at the 10th with a birdie two at the 13th before dropping a shot at the 16th to share 62nd in the clubhouse.

Charlie Wi, Alex Cejka and Richard Green were tied for third after 68s as Mediate's 69 left him tied for sixth with Jerry Kelly, Kenny Perry and Chris DiMarco.

Defending champion Alker, meanwhile, shot 70 but was no doubt equally entertained by the company.

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