Pádraig Harrington will embark on his bid for a third Open Championship victory and a fourth major at St Andrews today having promised to give it his best shot and not fear the consequences.
The 43-year-old’s back-to-back Open wins in 2007 and 2008 provided the spark for Graeme McDowell, Darren Clarke and Rory McIlroy to follow in his footsteps and he returned to major championship contention himself yesterday with a sparkling seven-under-par 65 around the Old Course.
That leaves Harrington at 10 under par going into today’s final round two shots back of a three-way tie for the lead that includes compatriot Paul Dunne.
Harrington’s golf yesterday had echoes of those wins at Carnoustie, Birkdale and in the 2008 PGA Championship at Oakland Hills, only glimpses of which have been since, not least when winning the Honda Classic on the PGA Tour in March.
The trademark strut had returned as had that stare that suggested he was in the zone and intent on holing everything. Those are manifestations of the Dubliner’s mental strength and good attitude he has shown all week. It has put Harrington in a great position to achieve his goal of getting into position for a title challenge down the stretch.
“It’s straightforward,” he said last night. “I have no issue with putting my neck on the line and failing. Doesn’t bother me. I’m trying to think back now, 2012 was my last chance really. I had a really good chance at the Olympic Club coming down the last at the US Open. That’s probably my last decent chance of winning.
“I’ve found myself in a nice place this week, and regardless of what happens, the attitude I’ve taken this week is the attitude I need to take going forward. Some of Harrington’s best golf in a bogey-free round of seven birdies came on the inward nine, not least at the par-four 13th, having put himself some 60 yards left out of position in rough the wrong wrong side of the adjoining sixth fairway. Leaving him a blind approach from 200 yards, he launched a spectacular four-iron to 12 feet from a flag at the front of the green to get up and down and remain in the hunt at nine under.
“It probably was my best shot of the day,” he said.
“I had exactly 200 yards, and I hit 4-iron, and it was as nice a shot, because it was a blind shot, and it was beautiful. I hit it exactly on the point I was aiming, exactly how I wanted to hit it. Yes, it was the nicest shot I hit of the day. Hit a lovely putt up there, as well.
“But as I said, you’re going to hit some good ones and some bad ones. That was certainly one to remember.”
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