Ireland's Padraig Harrington at the British Open

Padraig Harrington showed indications of a return to form as he shot a one under par 69 in the first round of the British Open.

Harrington got off to a shaky start, but began to gain confidence, and by the back nine he was hitting the ball as well as he did in his heyday.

He narrowly missed an eagle opportunity on the 17th after a massive 300-yard drive left his putt just short.

He did the same on the 8th where his 30-foot putt for birdie stopped just short of the hole.

Harrington - who won the last two British Opens - has been in a slump for most of the season.

However, he was given a boost with his victory in the Irish PGA championship last week.

He is five shots behind clubhouse leader Angel Jimenez, who shot a 64 on a course that played easier than anyone could remember during a British Open.

With rain and wind forecast for Friday Harrington may well come into his own under his favorite conditions.

He is tied with Ireland’s other star Rory McILroy at one under, the 20-year-old Northern Ireland sensation also shooting a 69.

One stroke in front is Graeme McDowell, the Northern Ireland player who has been enjoying an excellent year. Tiger Woods the pre-tournament favorite is at one over par.