Harrington hits the accelerator to move clear in Phoenix

Mark McGowan
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Padraig Harrington during the third round of the Charles Schwab Championship (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Padraig Harrington shot a blistering nine-under 62 on moving day to take control at the Charles Schwab Cup Championship at Phoenix Country Club.

Starting the day one stroke behind Steven Alker, Harrington came roaring out of the traps, hitting his approach to six-feet on the par-five opening hole before sinking the putt for eagle. Two more birdies on the fifth and seventh holes saw the Dubliner move into a two-stroke lead at the turn, and after making par at the 10th, firmly took control over the next four holes.

After birdieing the 11th, his tee-shot on 12 found the right rough and was partially blocked. He carved a swinging draw around the trees to about 20 feet before draining the putt. Another 20-footer followed from the fringe on the par-three 13th, but his drive on 14 was pushed well right and was fortunate to clip a tree and remain in bounds. Making the most of his good fortune, he then nearly holed his approach to move to eight-under for his round, and the 59 watch was on.

Near misses for birdie on 15 and 16 quickly dispelled any sub-60 notions, but a two-putt birdie on the par-five closing hole saw the three-time major champion sign for a bogey-free 62, five strokes ahead of Alker, though the New Zealander remains in pole position to claim the season-long points race.

“You know, today was a good day,” Harrington said after the round, “I think I’ve been playing pretty solid all the way through and just waiting for a good day like today. I obviously got a nice break, I think it was, but there were three eagle putts and not a huge amount of things going at that stage. And then obviously the four birdies in a row, I was out of position on two of the holes, so that’s the sort of thing you try and stay patient for and wait to happen.

“So, yeah, game has been good and if your game is good, good things like that come to you. But I will say you’ve got to be very careful for what you want, because I did say at the start of the week I wanted a 72 hole tournament. I would be better off with a 54 (as all regular season Champions Tour events are), wouldn’t I?”

On the 16th tee, with shadows lengthening, Harrington asked several spectators in the grandstand to move as their outlines were causing some distraction. “They’d been sitting there I assume all day waiting for this — I hope they were waiting for me all day. I got them to move. They still got a good view, but I did buy them a beer afterwards. I gave it to one guy, but it was for everybody in the area. I actually went in with 50, and I kind of says you can only get a few beers for 50, I better go back with more.”

Though Alker failed to match the scorching pace set by Harrington, he carded his third successive round without a bogey, and remains on track to claim the $1 million Schwab Cup bonus.

For Harrington to overtake Alker in the rankings – and only he can – he needs to win this tournament and needs Alker to finish outside the top five. As unlikely as that seemed yesterday when Alker sat atop the round-two leaderboard, there’s now a glimmer of hope as Brian Gay closed to within a shot of Alker in third, Alex Cejka a shot further back in fourth, and Retief Goosen one further still in fifth.

Earlier in the day, Darren Clarke registered three birdies and two bogeys in a one-under round of 70 to finish the day in a tie for 21st at four-under.

SCORING

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One response to “Harrington hits the accelerator to move clear in Phoenix”

  1. Robert J Quilty avatar
    Robert J Quilty

    Padraig,fantastic performance.Best of luck in final round.A win would cap a great year for you.

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