Padraig Harrington is on course for a first victory in two years after carding a four-under-par 68 today to open up a five-stroke lead heading into the final round of the Iskandar Johor Open.
Harrington, who has not won a tournament since the 2008 US PGA Championship, played the whole of the third round with a neck injury after tweaking a muscle during his warm up but showed no ill effects as he fired five birdies against just one bogey at the Horizon Hills Golf and Country Club.
The Dubliner has been in scintillating form at the tournament so far and his lead could have been greater had he made a short birdie chance on 16, although he conceded his injury troubled him throughout.
“If I wasn’t leading, I would have definitely pulled out. It’s still a problem. It was a bit better at the end but it was a substantial problem,” said the three-time Major winner.
“It eased up a little bit on 16 but I didn’t finish very well. But maybe sometimes when you are injured, it makes you relax a bit more. You accept poor shots and get on with it. My attitude was good all the way through.
“There is a lot to play for. It gives a chance to the field, to a number of guys who are close enough. If someone goes out there and shoots 64, it might put some pressure on me. My goal will be to shoot in the 60s. If someone beats me, I’ll be patting them on the back and saying ’well done’.”
Harrington has a three-day total of 17 under 199 at the Asian Tour event and is comfortably ahead of second-placed Lin Wen-tang of Chinese Taipei, who picked up two birdies in his last four holes for a even par 72.
Singaporean Mardan Mamat shot a 70 and is third, six shots behind Harrington while South Korea’s Noh Seung-yul (71) and Thai Kiradech Aphibarnrat (69) are tied fourth.
Colin Montgomerie equalled his best round of the year with a 68 and is in a share of seventh place with defending champion KJ Choi.
The Scot recently conceded the Ryder Cup captaincy had taken its toll on his playing form but enjoyed a blemish-free run on his outward nine today whilst collecting four birdies to reach the turn at four under.
Montgomerie mixed two birdies with two bogeys coming home but is well placed for a decent finish at the tournament on seven under.