Padraig Harrington authors a 5-under 66 at U.S. Senior Open, places himself in place ‘to win this’

BETHLEHEM, Pa. — Padraig Harrington lastly is aware of what it is prefer to overpower a golf course, and it has him on the verge of a U.S. Senior Open title.

Harrington reached each par 5s in two, hitting 5-wood to 7 ft on the 608-yard twelfth gap at Saucon Valley, and his 5-under 66 enabled him to open a 5-shot lead going into the ultimate spherical of the Senior Open.

Beginning the third spherical with a 1-shot lead over Steve Stricker, his Ryder Cup captain foe from Whistling Straits, Harrington birdied the opening two holes and was on his means.

He was at 12-under 201, 5 photographs away from former U.S. Senior Open champion Gene Sauers, who birdied the final two holes for a 68, and PGA Tour Champions rookie Rob Labritz (69).

“While you’ve bought a lead like this — in not even an ideal world, however in dreamland — you assume you are going to go on the market and play properly and run away with it, which is a risk,” Harrington mentioned. “I might play good tomorrow and have a pleasant, snug day. I might play common tomorrow, and somebody must come at me. Or I might play badly tomorrow, and I will nonetheless have an opportunity.

“I’ve mainly given myself lots of arms to win this.”

Stricker could not sustain after a gap birdie, and the par 5s is the place the successful U.S. Ryder Cup captain actually misplaced floor.

Harrington drilled a fairway steel into 25 ft on the 568-yard sixth gap, whereas Stricker hit a tree and needed to flight a chip underneath the branches. He got here up in need of the inexperienced and made bogey. It was a 2-shot swing when Harrington two-putted for birdie for a 4-shot margin.

After which on the twelfth, Harrington blasted his 5-wood over the nook of the tough to a pin tucked on the left facet. Stricker’s wedge went simply by the inexperienced, his chip down the hill was too sturdy and he made one other bogey. This turned out to be a 3-shot swing when Harrington holed the eagle putt.

Harrington, who turned 50 final August and is taking part in his first U.S. Senior Open, stretched his result in as many as 9 photographs. He had two bogeys during the last 4 holes, his first dropped photographs for the reason that opening spherical.

In any other case, it was a pure energy present, even for the 50-and-older set. The way in which he swung with power throughout rehearsal swings, harking back to Bryson DeChambeau, confirmed how a lot Harrington has emphasised velocity in his swing to get extra distance.

“Padraig is tearing it up,” Sauers mentioned. “He is taking part in a 6,500-yard golf course, and I am taking part in a 7,500-yard golf course.”

Harrington was by no means like that in his prime, counting on a clear strike and loads of grit to seize the British Open in successive years (2007-08) and the 2008 PGA Championship at Oakland Hills.

Two-time U.S. Open champion Ernie Els had a 67 and was 7 photographs behind.

“He is bought lots of size out right here,” Els mentioned of Harrington. “He is bought lots of size out right here. He is most likely the longest off the tee on the Champions Tour. When he has it underneath management, like he has this week, you have to be careful. It is good to see. He is taking part in with lots of freedom.”

Stricker by no means discovered his placing stroke all day and shot 73, leaving him 8 photographs behind together with Steven Alker and 68-year-old Jay Haas, who every had a 71.

“It wasn’t actually what I had in thoughts at this time,” Stricker mentioned. “No. 6 sort of jumped up and bought me once more at this time. I hit a ravishing 3-wood. I believed I might cowl that tree that is on the nook, and rattled in there and kicked it over into the woods and ended up making a bogey there if you’re attempting to get a birdie alternative there.

“And just a few sloppy play at instances,” he mentioned. “I did not make any putts, did not get it up and down. I believed I hit it just a little bit extra stable at this time and simply made too many errors.”

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