Padraig Harrington discovered one of the frustrations of golf today – you can work for days to get into a good position, but it takes only one hole to mess it up.
That hole was the 418-yard fifth at Atlanta’s Sugarloaf today, a triple-bogey seven putting a huge dent in the Irishman’s hopes of capturing his first US Tour title on the eve of the Masters.
Two birdies in his first three holes of the third round had put Harrington joint second only two stokes behind leader Zach Johnson. But minutes later he was only 14th and six adrift.
In finishing second to Adam Scott in the Players Championship last weekend Harrington had avoided anything worse than a bogey on all four days and in the first 40 holes this week he had done the same.
However, after a bad drive left he was forced to take a penalty drop, then hit his third into sand on the other side of the fairway.
With a creek short of the green he elected not to risk it and laid up, but it took him three more from there and he went from seven under par to four under.
Johnson, two ahead overnight as he also looked for his first win on the circuit, remained out in front after five holes. He did take a bogey six on the fourth, but that was sandwiched between two birdies.
His advantage was cut to one by defending champion Ben Crane, though, while Australian Scott Hend and two more Americans, Mark Hensby and Tim Petrovic, were joint third two further back.
Jose Maria Olazabal, who after opening with a 65 for the joint lead on Thursday crashed to a second-round 77, continued his rollercoaster ride with three birdies and no bogeys in the first 10 holes.
They brought him up to joint 10th on five under, the same mark as Phil Mickelson.
England’s Luke Donald also had a triple bogey – in his case at the 465-yard ninth, where he went from a greenside bunker into the creek the other side. It spoilt the work of three birdies and with six to play he was two under and in a tie for 21st.