Having started day three just two shots off the pace Padraig Harrington will commence his final round of the Regions Tradition six shots off the lead after he lost ground to leader Steve Stricker on day three in Birmingham, Alabama.
The 50-year-old started was on the coattails of his Ryder Cup counterpart but a two-under 70 to reach 11-under wasn’t good enough to keep pace at Greystone Golf & Country Club as Stricker extended his lead.
The American signed for a six-under 66 to move up to 17-under-par for the week and Harrington will need something special if he is to win his first seniors Major in his first appearance in one.
Indeed, he could be in a much worse position were it not for an eagle on the closing par-five 18th which saved his blushes somewhat, bringing him back into a share of fourth in Alabama.
Two bogeys in his opening six holes got him off to a rocky start, and it took him until the par-four eighth to put a birdie on the board to turn in one-over, with another birdie at the par-five 13th taking him back to level-par before the closing eagle.
Stricker, meanwhile, could do little wrong as he dropped just one shot in a round that contained seven birdies – three of them consecutive at the 13th, 14th and 15th – in a 66 to open up a three-shot lead at the top over Steven Alker at 17-under.
In-form Alker moved into second with a fantastic bogey-free 65, which took him to 14-under-par, with Miguel Angel Jimenez still in touch in third at 12-under after a 67.
Elsewhere, Darren Clarke moved inside the top-20 after an impressive moving day as his four-under 68 took him up to five-under-par for the week and a share of 17th, but things could have been even better for him.
The former Open champion, who has steadily improved with each round, was outstanding on his front-nine having started at the 10th, starting with four straight birdies and then adding two more at the 16th and 18th before the turn to go out in 30 and reach six-under.
But what was looking like an historic round quickly hit the buffers as, although he cancelled out a bogey at the par-three fourth with a birdie at the par-five fifth, he would finish poorly with back-to-back bogeys to drop back to four-under.
While the win might be out of reach, another round like Saturday’s – minus the mistakes – could move Clarke up into the top-10 which would be an excellent return at a Major, especially having started 72-71.
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