Padraig Harrington takes five-shot lead with 62 at Charles Schwab Cup Championship
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Written by Bob McClellan @ChampionsTour
Padraig Harrington’s Round 3 highlights at Charles Schwab Cup Championship
Padraig Harrington finally found a gear in which Steven Alker couldn’t keep up.
The 51-year-old Irishman blistered the Phoenix Country Club with a 9-under 62 on Saturday to get to 21 under and take a five-shot lead over Alker in the season-ending Charles Schwab Cup Championship.
“You know, today was a good day,” said Harrington, who had called Alker “relentless” after Friday’s second round. “I think I’ve been playing pretty solid all the way through and just waiting for a good day like today. … The four birdies in a row, I was out of position on two of the holes, so that’s the sort of thing you try and stay patient for and wait to happen. So, yeah, game has been good and if your game is good, good things like that come to you.
“But I will say you’ve got to be very careful for what you want, because I did say at the start of the week I wanted a 72-hole tournament. I would be better off with a 54, wouldn’t I?”
The Charles Schwab Cup Championship is a rare 72-hole event on PGA TOUR Champions. The only other tournaments contested over 72 holes instead of 54 are the five majors.
Harrington eagled the par-5 first hole to take the lead from Alker and never looked back. He had a string of four consecutive birdies on the back nine to push the lead to five, and he two-putted for birdie on the par-5 18th. He also went without a bogey, and the 62 was the low round of the tournament.
“Look, I’ve got to play the way I’ve been doing all year and focus on what I’m doing, and I certainly have had some good tournaments doing that. I think I’m better than, you know, I’ve been in past years. I’m bold, I do my own thing, which has never been my strength. I’ve always been a better chaser than leader.
“We’ll go and see tomorrow what happens. I’ve certainly given myself a few options. You know, five ahead, so hopefully I’ll go out there and play well and can wave at the crowds which if it doesn’t happen that way, well, we’ll have to dig deep and find another way of winning.”
Alker, 51, just needs to stay in the top five to hold off Harrington and win the season-long race for the Schwab Cup. He’s right where he needs to be, but by shooting only 3 under on Saturday, a few players crept closer to him.
Alker, who also played bogey-free on Saturday, sits at 16 under through three rounds. Brian Gay is in solo third at 15 under after a third-round 66. Alex Cejka, who shot 63, is fourth at 14 under, and Retief Goosen (68) is fifth at 13 under.
“Padraig kicked my ass today, that’s basically what happened,” Alker said. “Yeah, he had a nice round, just kind of pulled away on the back nine. I was just trying to make a few birdies coming in. I didn’t really give myself as many chances the last couple days, so that front nine, you want to get a few birdies early, so didn’t quite happen. Yeah, it’s there to take. I’ve got a lot of chasing to do now to win the tournament, but yeah, get a good night’s sleep and we’ll be all right.”
Gay, when asked what it would take to catch Harrington, cracked “a pencil, maybe.”