Pod, Yang keep Tiger on his toes
Padraig Harrington turned the US PGA Championship into a contest again by narrowing Tiger Woods’ lead on Saturday.
Padraig Harrington turned the US PGA Championship into a contest again when he reduced Tiger Woods’ four-shot lead after 36 holes to two heading into Sunday’s final round at Hazeltine National on Sunday.
But nobody, least of all of all the two headline makers themselves, should underestimate YE Yang, the less touted South Korean whose best-of-the-third-round 67 enabled him to slip in under the radar into a tie for second place with Harrington.
Harrington is not laughing off Yang, who earlier this year won the Honda Classic after having had to play his way through a qualifier to get into the US PGA Tour.
“When he won the HSBC Champions two years ago down the stretch, he went all the way against big-name players (including Woods), and he totally outplayed everybody,” the Irish star warned.
Woods got his third round under way at seven under par in Minnesota in the knowledge he had not lost the eight major championships he had led at the halfway stage and with a four-shot overnight lead the world number one had threatened to turn the final major of the year into a procession.
Defending champion Harrington had reeled in Woods’ lead as the final groups neared the clubhouse, but having been caught, the 14-time major winner was sparked out of a nine-hole run of pars with a birdie at the 14th.
Then Harrington bogeyed the 18th for a third-round, three-under-par 69 and Woods returned to grind mode and parred his way home for a one-under 71, at eight under two shots ahead of the Irishman and Yang, with whom he’ll play the final round on Sunday.
Henrik Stenson of Sweden and US Open champion Lucas Glover will start the final round at four under after rounds of 68 and 71 respectively with Denmark’s Soren Kjeldsen and Ernie Els of South Africa at three under, both having shot 70s.
“I was just trying to be very patient out there,” Woods said.
“The golf was playing a little more difficult and I had the lead so I played conservatively.
“I didn’t give myself a lot of looks and the one putt I missed was the three-putt (at the fourth) so other than that it was a really good, solid day.”
Harrington was left a little deflated after his closing bogey.
“It was a little disappointing,” he said.
“Sometimes when you get off to a shaky start and make a few pars you do feel better for it.
“Then I did start playing well and I holed a few putts and I was feeling good about things.
“Then at the end I got a flyer out of the rough and it was a disappointing way to finish.”
Harrington had started the day as part of a five-man group four shots behind Woods that also included Glover, England’s Ross Fisher, Australian Brendan Jones and two-time winner Vijay Singh.
Glover birdied the par-four second to close the gap before 14-time major winner Woods, chasing a third victory in as many weeks and his sixth of the year, also birdied the hole to return his lead to four shots.
It was short-lived, though, as Woods bogeyed the first par-three at the fourth and Lee Westwood moved within three after birdies at the second and seventh, only to then double bogey the par-three eighth and fall back to two under.
Yang also got to four under having started at one under and Harrington was the next to get there, the Irishman sinking a birdie at the seventh, putting from eight feet and then another at the eighth, from 18 feet, to move to five under.
Glover joined Harrington with a birdie at the seventh and Singh, having bogeyed the sixth, made his first move in the right direction with an eagle three on the seventh, chipping in from the fringe as Woods worked hard to save par for the third hole in a row.
Glover misfired for the first time at the 10th, short-siding himself in a greenside bunker and taking bogey to go to four under as Els chipped in for birdie at the 12th to take his place at five under, while playing partner Kjeldsen bogeyed to slip to four under.
Harrington continued his pursuit of Woods, a 10-foot birdie putt at the 11th cutting Woods’ lead to one stroke.
Having saved par brilliantly at the par-three 13th after sticking his tee shot into greenside rough, Harrington tied the lead at seven under with Woods with a birdie at the 14th, putting from 12 feet.
Els, like Harrington a three-time major winner, moved to six under at the par-five 15th as did Yang with a birdie at the par-four 16th.
Els, though, finished poorly, three bogeys in a row while Kjeldsen finished bogey, par, bogey.
Fisher, playing with Harrington, bogeyed the third and the fifth holes before his first birdie of the day came at the seventh. Another bogey at the 10th followed but the Englishman rebounded with birdies at 15 and 16 only to bogey the last for a 73, two under for the week.
Spain’s Alvaro Quiros made amends for a second-round 76 with a second 69 of the week to return to two under par while Germany’s Martin Kaymer joined him after a 71.
Westwood finished with a one-over 73 at one under alongside Rory McIlroy, while Graeme McDowell of Northern Ireland, who had led the tournament during the second round but fallen away for a 75, bounced back with a third-round 71, level par for the week, alongside Singh, who was playing with Woods and shot a 75.
All the third round scores & totals in the US PGA CHAMPIONSHIP, Hazeltine National Golf Club, Chaska, Minnesota, United States of America.
(USA unless stated, par 72):
208 Tiger Woods 67 70 71
210 Padraig Harrington (Irl) 68 73 69, Y.E. Yang (Kor) 73 70 67
212 Lucas Glover 71 70 71, Henrik Stenson (Swe) 73 71 68
213 Soren Kjeldsen (Den) 70 73 70, Ernie Els (Rsa) 75 68 70
214 John Rollins 73 73 68, Ross Fisher (Eng) 73 68 73, Brendan Jones (Aus) 71 70 73, Martin Kaymer (Ger) 73 70 71, Alvaro Quiros (Spa) 69 76 69
215 Rory McIlroy (NIrl) 71 73 71, Corey Pavin 73 71 71, Tim Clark (Rsa) 76 68 71, Lee Westwood (Eng) 70 72 73, Stephen Ames (Can) 74 71 70
216 Francesco Molinari (Ita) 74 73 69, Graeme McDowell (NIrl) 70 75 71, Vijay Singh (Fij) 69 72 75, Steve Flesch 74 73 69, David Toms 69 75 72
217 Michael Allen 74 71 72, Ben Crane 70 75 72, Zach Johnson 74 73 70
218 Dustin Johnson 72 73 73, Anthony Kim 73 74 71, Scott McCarron 75 72 71, John Merrick 72 72 74, Charl Schwartzel (Rsa) 76 70 72, Retief Goosen (Rsa) 77 71 70, Oliver Wilson (Eng) 74 72 72, Ben Curtis 73 72 73, Stewart Cink 73 73 72, Hiroyuki Fujita (Jpn) 71 74 73, Hunter Mahan 69 75 74, K J Choi (Kor) 73 72 73, Ian Poulter (Eng) 72 70 76
219 Kevin Na 73 75 71, Robert Allenby (Aus) 69 75 75, Miguel Angel Jimenez (Spa) 75 73 71, Woody Austin 73 73 73, Boo Weekley 74 74 71, Kevin Sutherland 73 72 74, Thongchai Jaidee (Tha) 70 76 73
220 Chad Campbell 74 73 73, John Mallinger 73 71 76, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano (Spa) 70 77 73
221 Jeev Milkha Singh (Ind) 74 73 74, Justin Leonard 73 75 73, Jeff Overton 72 74 75, Jim Furyk 73 75 73, Luke Donald (Eng) 71 77 73, Fred Couples 74 74 73
222 Kenny Perry 74 70 78, Rory Sabbatini (Rsa) 74 70 78, Soren Hansen (Den) 72 76 74, Geoff Ogilvy (Aus) 71 73 78,
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