Scintillating Harrington and Woods set up final-day Firestone showdown
PADRAIG Harrington and six-times champion Tiger Woods will contest a mouth-watering last-day duel for the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational today after with electrifying displays on the back nine in yesterday's third round.
Overnight leader Harrington reeled off four birdies in six holes from the 12th on the way to a three-under-par 67 at Firestone Country Club, stretching his advantage to three strokes.
Although the Irishman briefly faltered with a bogey at the par-5 16th, where he duffed his fourth shot from a greenside bunker, he drained a 19 footer on the 17th green to finish at 10-under-par 200.
Woods, seeking his fifth PGA Tour victory of the year on one of his favourite layouts, birdied four of the last six holes for a superb 65, matching the best score of the day.
The 14-times major winner, whose approach play and putting were in sizzling order, sank a seven-foot birdie putt at the last to secure second place at seven under.
South African Tim Clark, playing with Harrington in the final pairing, carded a 71 to lie five strokes off the lead in third with American Jerry Kelly, who posted a 69.
Open champion Stewart Cink, Masters winner Angel Cabrera and England's Oliver Wilson are among a group of ten players bunched at four under.
Woods, however, cast an ominous shadow over the rest of the elite field of 79, Harrington included. He has won the Bridgestone Invitational six times in just nine starts and said his game had improved since he clinched his 69th PGA Tour victory at the Buick Open last Sunday. "I've made some improvements and I'm more confident in what I'm doing," said Woods after piling up six birdies and a sole bogey in wet conditions. "This week I hit the ball pretty good, especially today on the back nine. I drove the ball pretty good all day and hit some really good iron shots in there today. I've always felt comfortable here, there's no doubt," he added of the tree-lined layout. "Certain courses, no matter how I'm playing going in, I always feel very comfortable once I get there."
Harrington may not win a major this year, but he would willingly settle for a first World Golf Championships title.
The three-time major winner, pictured below, will defend his USPGA Championship title at Hazeltine National next week after a season of toil while he modified his swing.
A return to form in Ohio, though, has left the Irishman with a three-stroke lead at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational.
Harrington added a 69 on Friday to his opening 64 to lead the tournament by one stroke from Tim Clark at the halfway stage, and yesterday's 67 edged him closer to a first WGC title at an event in which he has previously failed to land a top-ten finish.
"I would like to win a World Golf event, yes," Harrington said. "I think I would like to have that on my CV. If it comes to comparing World Golf events to majors... I'd rather win another major than any World Golf event. But a World Golf event in itself is a big event. You've got all the best players playing. So yes, I think it would be very important to win one or some of them throughout my career."
A big finish at Firestone today followed by a good week at Hazeltine would also catapult Harrington into the top 125 in the FedEx Cup standings, allowing him to play in the end-of-season FedEx Cup play-offs, which start later this month with the Barclays tournament at Liberty National.
Harrington was 142nd in the standings heading into this tournament but refused to accept he should be embarrassed by the possibility of missing out. "There's no place for embarrassment on the golf course," he said. "I would never, ever, no matter what. I know I'm trying 100 per cent, so whatever my results are I can hold my head high and would never let that feeling."
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 17 C
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Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
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