Pádraig Harrington kept his Schwab Cup fate in his own hands after a final round 67 saw him finish in fourth place at the TimberTech Championship.
Harrington knew a top-5 finish would ensure the race went down to the final week and despite battling a neck injury, the three-time major champion showed all of his fighting qualities to grind out a five-under round to end the week on –10, seven shy of Bernhard Langer who ran away to a six-shot win on –17.
“This is certainly not a golf course that builds confidence for me, but today I pulled a muscle in my neck before I went out, so I was in a lot of trouble out there, couldn’t really complete my backswing. You know, I wouldn’t say I was in a lot of pain, but it was a lot of discomfort that made it awkward and difficult,” explained Harrington who expects to be fully fit for the finale.
“So it was again a bit like yesterday, it was all hands to deck and just dig deep and try and get on with it. I used to lose one in three weeks to injury back in the day and done a lot of good work on my neck, so this is only the second time this year it’s popped up. I just pulled a muscle hitting a 5-iron on the range. Yeah, I managed to get around because I’ve done it before and hopefully, as I said, next couple of days it will clear itself up.”
The injury curtailed Harrington’s warmup but he still managed birdies on 1, 2, 7, 10, 11 and 14 with his only blemish coming on 15 and he was delighted to get out of Royal Palm Yacht & Country Club still with a chance of winning the Schwab Cup,
“Well, it didn’t suit me. Yeah, if you were playing here day in, day out, it would certainly make you feel like you’re swinging in a straightjacket. It’s hard to find confidence out there. Yeah, it was a tough week all around, just stuck in there.”
The path is simple for Harrington heading to the Charles Schwab Cup Championship next week. Win.
“Steven Alker tied sixth. I gained on him, that’s all I could ask for. Obviously I have to win next week, there’s no choice there. I’d say, I don’t know, he would probably have to finish third at least or something like that, would he? You guys can work it out. Maybe not as much as third, maybe fifth.
“So I have to win — I have no choice but to win, and he’s got a few more scenarios that work out well for him. At least I kept it going. It didn’t look like that after the first hole yesterday. My first ball went out of bounds, my second ball was going well out of you bounds, hit the fence and stayed inbounds. I played it left handed, then I hit it in the water, then I dropped out, then I holed it for my eighth. Yeah, it didn’t look like I would be in this tournament at that stage.”
Langer made history as he broke the record as the oldest PGA sanctioned winner, now he stands one shy of Hale Irwin’s record of 45 titles.
Darren Clarke finished on four-under after a two-over 74.