Pádraig Harrington admits all the work he does at the moment is designed to help him keep up with golf’s younger generation, but doesn’t mind if it means he’s competitive on the PGA Tour Champions.
The ever-energetic three-time Major champion, who only turns 51-years-young in two weeks’ time, is still balancing events on the PGA Tour and DP World Tours with making his debut season on the seniors circuit.
And so far it appears to have gone well given he has already won the US Senior Open, was in contention at The Senior Open and a five-under 67 on Saturday has him just one shot off the lead heading into the final round of the DICK’S Sporting Goods Open.
Harrington posted six birdies in a second round that featured a lengthy delay for adverse weather conditions and, were it not for a late bogey at the par-three 17th, he would have taken a share of the lead into the final day rather than being one stroke behind Mike Weir.
As it is, Weir’s 65 saw him claim the advantage at 12-under-par, with Harrington sidling in behind him at 11-under and within striking distance of a second senior title, and he’s thrilled the work he’s doing is translating to all levels.
“The only reason I put the work in, it wasn’t for here I put the work in, it was to be competitive with the young guys,” he conceded.
“I’m finding (my length) out here it’s a very nice advantage, but nearly the bigger advantage is on par-threes, hitting shorter irons and maybe able to them higher in there with a bit more spin.
“You know, I like it out here. I’m being tested more on the mental side of the game. Every shot is important in the sense of I’m up there around the lead all the time, so I’m under a little bit of pressure, I’m under a little bit of stress and you learn about your game more in those situations.
“I like what I see and I’m working on the right things. Really enjoying this. A different test of being up there and competing rather than being in the middle of the pack and trying to make your way. Have a big week here, I’ve been trying to keep myself in it, have a big last nine holes.”
Weir strung together seven birdies in eight holes around the turn on his way to his seven-under round which puts him one clear at the top with one round to play, and there is a buffer between Harrington in second to Ernie Els and Vijay Singh in third.
The experienced pair signed for rounds of 68 and 70 respectively to sit nine-under-par, three back of Weir, with Gene Sauers, Tom Pernice Jr and Jim Furyk at eight-under.
It was not the day Darren Clarke was hoping for, though, as the Dungannon man entered the second round with a share of the lead but, while he had four birdies, he also had two bogeys and a double in a level-par 72 to stay seven-under-par and tied for eighth.