Pod set to tangle with Tiger
Padraig Harrington is three clear at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational, but faces a a tough tangle with Tiger Woods today
Padraig Harrington is preparing to go into battle against Tiger Woods in the final round of the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational after admitting no lead is big enough to guarantee victory.
Harrington kept a charging Woods at bay on Saturday and will take a three-shot advantage into their final-round showdown at Firestone Country Club.
The Irishman, the reigning US PGA champion, shot a five-birdie, two-bogey 67 in the rain in Ohio to lead the tournament at 10 under par after six-time winner Woods fired a five-under-par 65 to move to seven under and set up a compelling last pairing for Sunday’s final round.
Tim Clark of South Africa and American Jerry Kelly lie a further two shots back on five under in a tie for third.
Ten players, including all three 2009 major winners, Angel Cabrera, Lucas Glover and Stewart Cink, are tied for seventh on four under.
American JB Holmes moved to three under with an early 65, while Ian Poulter bounced back from a 74 on Friday with a third-round 67 to reach two under.
Harrington, meanwhile said: “I’m obviously happy with my day’s work.
“The key is to keep breaking 70 and make sure if anyone else is going to win this tournament they’re going to have to play well.
“The first couple of holes I felt things quite went for me and then I played poorly in the middle of the round but I started recovering well and that gave me a boost going into the back nine.
“Then on the back nine I created a few chances and holed a few putts.
“On the back nine I was really pushing hard to put some room between me and the field and there was a nice feeling. There wasn’t quite the defensive sort of position I was in maybe the last couple of days.”
As for his Sunday strategy, Harrington said: “Just more of the same it will be.
“I realise I’m going to have a difficult day, that’s for sure. This golf course has obviously been very good for Tiger, he’s played well here in the past and done well so I don’t think anything is going to be easy tomorrow.
“Probably at best it’s going to be a long, hard day and a battle. That’s what I’m going to prepare myself for.”
Harrington believes he will have to be at his best to defeat Woods, no matter the three-shot cushion.
“I was trying to put as much room between me and the field but at the end of the day there’s probably never enough room between you and Tiger, so I know I have to play well tomorrow if I’m going to win,” he added.
American Jerry Kelly lies in third on five under, where South Africa’s Tim Clark was also positioned before calling himself for a two-stroke penalty after his round. He failed to replace his ball in the original position on the 16th green, having moved it to allow Harrington to putt.
Clark fell back to three under, one behind a group of 10 players including all three 2009 major winners – Angel Cabrera, Lucas Glover and Stewart Cink – Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez and England’s Oliver Wilson tied for seventh on four under.
Woods began the day five shots behind Harrington as he started his third round and was still four shots in arrears as he turned for home.
Then Woods stepped up a gear on the back nine, four birdies in his last six holes moving him into a tie for the lead with Harrington and Clark at seven under par as the American posted a five-under 65.
US PGA champion Harrington had spent most of his third round sparring with Clark in the final group out on the 7,400-yard South Course as rain fell throughout the afternoon.
The Dubliner began the day at seven under, one shot clear of the South African, and landed the first blow after pitching from 110 yards to inside 10 feet, from where he sank the birdie putt and moved to eight under but they both made the turn at seven under.
Woods started steadily from two under par with four straight pars before a birdie at the par-three fifth was followed by bogey-birdie at the eighth and ninth.
Then Woods came alive on the closing stretch, birdies at the 13th and 15th moving the six-time Firestone winner to five under, ominously close to the lead.
Even more ominous was his iron shot from 91 yards to inside a foot at the 16th, a smiling Woods strolling up to tap in for another birdie that took him to six under, a shot off the lead.
Woods’ momentum carried him to a closing birdie at the 18th and he walked off the course to a huge roar from the rain-soaked gallery tied with Clark and Harrington in the lead.
His time at the top of the leaderboard was short-lived as Harrington showed his mettle with back-to-back birdies, rolling in a 30-foot putt at the 12th and another of 21 feet at the 13th and another at the par-three fourth.
Harrington had a wobble at the at the par-five 16th, which he bogeyed, but bounced straight back with a birdie at the par-four 17th to return to 10 under par, three shots clear and heading for a Sunday showdown with the world number one.
ALL THE THIRD ROUND SCORES
(USA unless stated, par 70):
200 Padraig Harrington (Irl) 64 69 67
203 Tiger Woods 68 70 65
205 Jerry Kelly 71 65 69
206 Zach Johnson 67 70 69, Oliver Wilson (Eng) 69 69 68, Lucas Glover 69 69 68, Woody Austin 69 68 69, Stewart Cink 69 69 68, Angel Cabrera (Arg) 70 68 68, Kenny Perry 69 71 66, Robert Allenby (Aus) 68 69 69, Miguel Angel Jimenez (Rsa) 68 72 66, Mike Weir (Can) 71 66 69
207 Steve Stricker 67 69 71, Hunter Mahan 68 69 70, J.B. Holmes 70 72 65, David Toms 69 69 69, Geoff Ogilvy (Aus) 69 71 67, Tim Clark (Rsa) 66 68 73
208 Chad Campbell 71 68 69, Pat Perez 70 72 66, Prayad Marksaeng (Tha) 66 70 72, Ian Poulter (Eng) 67 74 67, Carl Pettersson (Swe) 70 70 68
209 Retief Goosen (Rsa) 71 67 71, Alvaro Quiros (Rsa) 72 65 72
210 Rory Sabbatini (Rsa) 71 71 68, Vijay Singh (Fij) 70 73 67, Soren Hansen (Den) 69 71 70, Sergio Garcia (Rsa) 68 72 70, Scott Verplank 66 69 75, Nick O’Hern (Aus) 72 67 71, Lee Westwood (Eng) 69 71 70
211 Nick Watney 74 68 69, Ross Fisher (Eng) 70 71 70, Davis Love III 72 66 73, Nick Dougherty (Eng) 69 71 71, Darren Clarke (NIrl) 71 70 70, Charles Howell III 71 72 68, Dustin Johnson 70 71 70, Anthony Kim 72 68 71, Justin Leonard 70 71 70, Luke Donald (Eng) 70 72 69, Stuart Appleby (Aus) 74 68 69, Henrik Stenson (Swe) 69 72 70
212 Justin Rose (Eng) 75 68 69, Mathew Goggin (Aus) 73 71 68, Camilo Villegas (Col) 70 70 72
213 Jeev Milkha Singh (Ind) 70 71 72, Anthony Kang 71 76 66, Ernie Els (Rsa) 71 72 70, Y.E. Yang (Kor) 72 72 69
214 Phil Mickelson 70 69 75, Trevor Immelman (Rsa) 70 70 74, Anders Hansen (Den) 73 71 70, Cameron Beckman 71 71 72, Boo Weekley 69 69 76, Gonzalo Fdez-Castano (Rsa) 70 71 73
215 Graeme McDowell (NIrl) 73 71 71, Thongchai Jaidee (Tha) 71 74 70
216 Danny Lee (Nzl) 68 73 75, Christian Cevaer (Fra) 75 70 71, Rory McIlroy (NIrl) 75 70 71, Adam Scott (Aus) 78 67 71, Richard Sterne (Rsa) 72 73 71
217 Soren Kjeldsen (Den) 72 70 75, Sean O’Hair 69 72 76, Jim Furyk 73 71 73
218 Ben Curtis 77 69 72, Martin Kaymer (Ger) 72 74 72
219 Nathan Green (Aus) 74 71 74, K J Choi (Kor) 74 72 73,
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