Padraig Harrington lost ground to Tiger Woods at the US PGA Championship but said he would remain focused on getting to the last nine holes on Sunday still in contention.
Defending champion Harrington shot a one-over-par 73 last night and will start today’s third round at Hazeltine National four shots behind Woods in a five-way tie for second with Ross Fisher, Lucas Glover, Brendan Jones and Vijay Singh, who will partner the leader in the last group out.
Yet Harrington has played superbly over the final nine holes of the last two majors he won last year, coming home in 32 at both Royal Birkdale at the Open and Oakland Hills to win the US PGA, and he believes if he can safely negotiate the next round and a half he will be a match for anyone, including the world number one.
“Nine holes to go, that really has to be my focus for the next 27 holes, if I can get within a shouting distance with nine holes to go,” Harrington said.
“You just don’t know. Anybody can do anything over nine holes.
“So that would be the goal. Four shots is too many, but if I was a couple of shots, I’d certainly take that with nine holes to go.
“It’s not that I’d expect to overhaul him, but anybody in that position would have a chance at doing it, especially on this golf course.
“There are some tough holes and there are some birdie holes, so there are opportunities for a player to catch up.”
Nor is Harrington fazed by Woods’ perfect record at turning halfway leads into major victories.
The 14-time major winner has won eight out of eight championships having led after 36 holes but Harrington believes it is a streak that has to finish some time and he might as well be the player to end it.
“I would go along the lines of it’s got to break at some stage,” he said. “I might as well tell myself that.
“In fairness to Tiger, that’s never going to last forever. Maybe he’ll be 60 when it’s broken, but it’s never going to last forever.
“Maybe I’ll be the guy who does it. I suppose that’s the way to look at it.
“At the end of the day I can’t control what Tiger is going to do for the next 36 holes but I have control over myself.
“So that’s what I’ve got to focus on. Play my golf, be a bit more trusting and if Tiger plays the golf he’s capable of on the weekend, he’ll be a winner.
“But if I play my golf, hopefully it will push him a little and we’ll see what happens.”