Harrington pleased with performance despite trailing by ten shots

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Padraig Harrington (Photo by Brennan Asplen/Getty Images)

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Pádraig Harrington was pleased to produce a more complete performance on day three of the US Senior Open despite seeing his hopes of lifting a second title all but end.

Harrington carded a one-under 69 to climb to four-under and into a share of 13th place but he trails Hiroyuki Fujita by ten shots heading into the final round with the Japanese holding a two-shot lead over Harrington’s Champions Tour adversary, Steve Stricker.

The three-time major winner might have drawn closer to Fujita had he not dropped four shots in two holes when he bogeyed the seventh and triple bogeyed the eighth.

The Hall of Fame golfer responded with aplomb, carding four birdies in a clean back nine of 31 in the blustery conditions.

“I lost a bit of focus on 7 and 8, but in general, I played well all the way. So I drove it well for the rest of the round. I suppose I holed a few putts to make a few birdies.

“It was a little windy out at one stage when we were going out into the wind there. It wasn’t that windy, but it seemed with the drop in temperature, it seemed to play a little bit long. I came up short a couple of holes before I realized.

“The course is playing nice. It’s how you actually want to see the course play, I think. I think any less — and the greens start to firm up a little bit. Certainly they’re not soft anymore. So nice test.”

Fujita, meanwhile, continued his machine-like performance. An 18-time winner on the Japan Golf Tour and last year’s Japan Senior Open winner, he didn’t seem fazed by his pairing or the situation as he tries to become the first male Japanese golfer to claim a USGA title.

He came out of the gates with a nice up-and-down birdie on the par-5 first and added two more birdies on six and nine to turn in 32. A brilliant 10-foot par save at the 15th kept Fujita from suffering his second bogey of the week. He was the only player in the field on Saturday to have a clean card.

“I just tried to stay even keel and consistent,” said Fujita through a translator. “I’m just trying to enjoy the fact that I’m out here, and I feel very lucky to be here. I try to focus on that.”

Stricker also made an up-and-down birdie at the first from a greenside bunker, but it was his 15-foot par save at the 326-yard second that might have been the biggest moment of the round.

“I putted the ball really nicely again today,” said Stricker, who is tied with Fujita and Green for the most birdies with 15. “I feel really good with that new putter that I put in this week and hit a lot right on my line…That [par putt on No. 2] was an important one right out of the start of the round.”

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