If Padraig Harrington misses out on a third successive major by a single shot tomorrow there is one moment that will be shown over and over again.
Harrington went into the third round of The Masters at Augusta today in joint 19th place with Tiger Woods on two under par, seven adrift of Americans Chad Campbell and Kenny Perry.
But the Irishman would have been 11th and alongside Phil Mickelson if the wind had not blown his ball three feet on the 15th green of his second round as he prepared for a four-foot birdie attempt.
Harrington was not addressing the ball at the time, but he had done previously and so it meant a one-stroke penalty – even though the last time the same thing happened to him he was not punished.
“That was in Houston a while ago and at the time the referee ruled that it wasn’t a penalty,” said the Open and US PGA champion.
“I grew up thinking it was, so it was not hard to take and I’m pleased that I collected my thoughts and knocked the putt in.”
For par rather than birdie, however.
Harrington, who had eagled the long 13th to leap back into contention, then bogeyed the 17th for a 73, but said: “Here at Augusta it is not a big deal to be seven behind.
“The trouble with today’s round is that it doesn’t give me much of a leeway.”
Cheered by the thought that he was six back at halfway at the PGA last August and won by two, he added: “It is well within me.
“Going out there the next two days anyone can shoot a couple of (low) scores. It has been done – there have been a couple of 65s (Campbell on Thursday, Anthony Kim yesterday) and I certainly think I can play the golf.
“I am not out of it, but I won’t be able to absorb any more bad luck. If things don’t go right for me I won’t be winning.”
Campbell added a 70 to stay out in front, but while he played the last eight in two over his Ryder Cup teammate Perry covered the same stretch in three under.
Argentina’s Angel Cabrera, US Open champion two years ago, is one behind and then there is a further two-stroke gap to 2004 Open champion Todd Hamilton, currently down at 373rd in the world after a nightmare slump since he beat Ernie Els in a play-off at Royal Troon.
Leading European in joint sixth place on four under is Sergio Garcia after a 67 in the last group of the day, while Swede Henrik Stenson is one further back along with Mickelson, who played the last seven in five under with an eagle and three birdies.
Woods birdied the 18th for a second day in a row and had to settle for a 72.
Alongside the world No. 1 is not only Harrington, but also Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell and 51-year-old Sandy Lyle, who had five successive birdies from the 13th.
Level par and joint 33rd are Ian Poulter, Justin Rose, Luke Donald and Houston Open winner Paul Casey, while debutant Ross Fisher made it on the limit of one over.
That was a disappointment after his start, though. Fisher had been five under after 16 holes of his opening round, finished with two bogeys, then produced only a 76 on his return to the course.
The two leaders are both seeking the first major titles of their career.
Campbell was runner-up to Shaun Micheel in the 2003 US PGA and third at Augusta three years ago – he was the halfway leader then as well and shot a third round 75 – while 48-year-old Perry lost a play-off to Mark Brooks in the PGA 13 years ago.
A year ago Campbell was not even in the field and said: “I was very, very disappointed. I look forward to coming here probably more so than any event we play all year.”
On Perry he commented: “He’s an awesome player – one of the best drivers out here, possibly the best. He’s definitely going to be tough to beat.”
Perry was criticised for not playing The Open at Birkdale last summer and stated: “I told y’all I was going to play all four majors this year.
“After the Ryder Cup (in his home state Kentucky) everything is a bonus now, it really is.
“I’m burning inside, wanting to kick everybody’s butt.”
Woods revealed his annoyance at not making a bigger move in his short answers to all the questions put to him.
“Yeah” was all he said when asked if he got frustrated, if it was a tough day and whether a seven-stroke deficit was retrievable.
“Hopefully I’ve got to play a little bit better than I have, make a few more putts and clean up my round.”