Padraig Harrington is just two strokes off the lead going into the final round of the Regions Tradition at Greystone Golf and Country Club in the first major of the year on the Champions Tour.
The reigning Senior US Open champion carded seven birdies and an eagle on his way to a third-round, seven-under 65 to trail 54-hole leaders Robert Karlsson and Steve Stricker.
After an opening par, Harrington would eagle the par-5 second and birdie the third to get to three-under through three, and although he’d make a disappointing bogey at the par-5 fifth, he’d make amends at the next and added another birdie at nine to make the turn at four-under for the day.
His second and final bogey of the day came at the 11th, and with three par-5s on the back nine, he’d birdie all three in addition to the par-4 16th to reach the clubhouse at -14, declaring that it was “all to play for tomorrow.”
As 36-hole leader Ernie Els would labour to a level-par 72, Stricker and Karlsson took control, the former, the defending champion shooting a bogey-free 64 that included six birdies on the inward loop, while Karlsson went one shot better with a bogey on the 14th following an eagle-three on the 13th as he’d set a new course record at Greystone Golf and Country Club.
Paul Broadhurst lies solo fourth at -13, with the trio of Alex Cejka, Timothy O’Neill and Jerry Kelly one further adrift on -12.
Darren Clarke would mix in one bogey with three birdies to shoot a two-under round of 70, leaving the current Senior Open champion tied for 22nd.
“I didn’t know I set the course record,” Karlsson would later admit, “I’ve been working hard this week with Mark Saxton, my swing coach, we did a little bit of extra work on Monday and the last few months I’ve been working quite a bit. Even though I haven’t put it together I’ve been trying.
“I’m going to try keep doing what I’m doing, keep my mind where it needs to be for tomorrow.
Hopefully I’m able to keep playing aggressive, you have to do that on the Champions Tour because the scoring is pretty low. I’ll keep going with nothing to hold back and see what happens tomorrow.”
Asked if he’d needed to shoot 30 on the back nine to remain in contention, four time Senior major champion Stricker admitted that he wasn’t sure.
“It’s hard to tell,” he said, “Robert is playing well, he’s been a good player for a long time. There’s good scores out here if you can keep it in play, but you have to make the putts, that’s the bottom line. I knew I needed about four on that side just to keep it in striking distance and I got a little more that I was set out to do. That’s always a good feeling and it puts me in a good spot for tomorrow, it should be fun.”
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