It was a tale of two nines for Pádraig Harrington who holed out from the green side bunker on 18 for a 75 after admitting he was just trying to break 80 following a front nine of 43.
Biblical rain greeted Harrington on the first tee and a bogey, bogey, double bogey start did little to brighten his spirits. Things threatened to spiral out of control after he closed his opening nine with four successive bogeys and card a front nine akin to a monthly medal rather than round three of the PGA Championship.
“I was trying to break 80, yes. Probably somebody would get upset if I said that,” admitted Harrington.
Break 80 he did and in some style. The three-time major champion put on a show on the back nine hinting at what might be possible for the final groups with birdies on 13 and 14 before bringing the house down on 18 with a long bunker shot across the green for a closing gain.
It brought a smile to Harrington’s face who insisted he didn’t play anywhere near as poorly as his front nine suggested.
“Another day on that front nine, I would have shot 2-over. I three-putted the first two greens. On a tough day, you need momentum. I three-putted the first two greens, hit it over the back the next, so I threw away three shots straight away, and the same on 7, 8, 9. I’m on the fringe three times and I made three bogeys.
“On a normal day I would have played the front nine in 2-over and would have been moaning about it.
“11-shot swing is a lot. I had eight 5s on the front nine. I created some good chances on the back nine. I had a good chance on 10, 11, not a bad chance on 12, birdied 13, 14. 15, outside. 16, I made an up-and-down on 16. 17 lag two-putt, and 18 holed a bunker shot.
“Look, I didn’t play awful on the front nine by any means, I just scored terrible, and that happens. On a tough day, it happens, and you just kind of have to — that’s golf. If all the breaks went your way all the time, it would be boring.”
Having played himself out of contention in emphatic fashion the back nine and tomorrow’s final round are all about preparation for next week’s Senior PGA Championship.
“Once you can’t win the tournament, it’s all about just — every shot is a practice, training. There’s no substitute for hitting a shot with a card in your hand, and there’s no point in — you can hit as many shots as you like on the range or in practice rounds. It’s not like playing real golf. That’s what you see when you go on the back nine in a situation like that. It’s an opportunity to get your game in shape, with 27 holes left in this tournament to get your game in shape for next week.”
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