Padraig Harrington was left ruing a double-bogey six on the 14th hole which put paid to his chances of capturing the Champion Tour’s Chubb Classic at Tiburon Golf Club in Florida, as Bernhard Langer successfully defended his title.
Starting the day two back, Harrington knew he’d need a low round in perfect scoring conditions and the Dubliner got off to a fast start with birdie at the first and it would only get better. Additional birdies would follow at three, five, six, eight and nine which saw him take the lead and make the turn in 29.
The momentum stalled on the back nine as he’d par the first four holes, then disaster struck on the par 4 14th where he found trouble off the tee and hacked his way to a double-bogey six, dropping him out of a share of the lead.
He’d rebound with a birdie at the par 5 15th and close out the tournament with an eagle at the last to post the clubhouse lead at -14, but Bernhard Langer, playing a couple of groups behind, had taken control.
65-year-old Langer was looking to tie Hale Irwin’s Champions Tour wins record of 45, and after a steady start, the ageless German reached the midpoint of the round at two-under for the day, but he came alive on the back nine, posting five birdies to shoot his age and finish three ahead of Harrington and Steve Stricker.
“Yeah, it’s not a golf course that I particularly feel I have an advantage on,” said Harrington after his round, “so I’m happy to be in there at the end of the week and in contention. Certainly missed a few putts the first two days.
“Today I had a good day. A couple of tee shots in the left-to-right wind coming home I hit dead straight down the left didn’t come back, so not unhappy. They weren’t so much bad swings, they just weren’t perfect, either. But the wind didn’t do what we expected.
“I did make a bit of a meal of the chip-out on the par-4. I was afraid of hitting a tree in the fairway and not getting it out twice. So look, yeah, the fact I had a good finish, I don’t regret maybe that double as it is. Maybe tonight I will, though.”
The usually stoic Langer celebrated with raised fists and a jubilant smile. “Yeah, there’s been a lot of talk about catching Hale for the last few years,” he said, “and there’s a lot of pressure, especially today when you get this close. Then you have thoughts running through your mind, and you’re going, wow, you’re this close, you don’t want to lose it now. But that’s the wrong stuff to think. You’ve got to just focus on one shot at a time.”
After a four-under par second round in difficult conditions that featured just seven pars, Darren Clarke doubled the par tally today, adding two birdies and two bogeys to sign for a level-par 72 and a T25 finish.
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