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After the round Harrington said: “I know, when it comes to this course with a five-shot lead, I’ve given myself plenty of options to win this tournament. That’s the important thing.
“When you’ve got a lead like this, in not even a perfect world, but in dreamland, you think you’re going to go out there and play well and run away with it, which is a possibility. As long as I keep my head on my shoulders, even if I play badly, just stick in there. I’m sure I’ll have a chance coming down the stretch to turn things around if I’m not having a good day.”
The 50-year-old from Ireland has mastered all three phases through 54 holes. He followed Friday’s 6-under 65 with a 5-under-par 66 on Saturday to take five-shot advantage over 2016 U.S. Senior Open Champion Gene Sauers and qualifier Rob Labritz.
By the manner in which Harrington has used his power and skill the past three days on the 6,940-yard, par-71 layout designed by Herbert Strong, it doesn’t appear there will be any letup by the man with 32 worldwide victories, including the 2007 and 2008 Open Championships, and the 2008 PGA Championship.
Harrington seized control of Round 3 with birdies on the par-5 first and 474-yard second, statistically the toughest hole for the championship. A two-putt birdie on the 568-yard, par-5 sixth gave him a four-stroke lead over 2019 winner Steve Stricker, who started the day just one shot behind but faltered to a 2-over 73.
Sauers birdied his final two holes to get into the last pairing for Sunday, while Labritz, a PGA Tour Champions rookie who is the director of golf at GlenArbor Golf Club in Bedford Hills, N.Y., birdied 15 and 16 to get to 6-under. He is the only player in the field to shoot three rounds in the 60s.
Twenty-one of the 64 players who made the cut were qualifiers, including a pair of alternates, Clark Dennis and Gavin Coles. The only qualifier to win the U.S. Senior Open is Don Pooley in 2002 at Caves Valley in an aggregate playoff over Tom Watson.
Defending Champion Jim Furyk made a huge move on Saturday by carding a 5-under 66 to move from a tie for 54th to a share of 15th. That matched Harrington for best round of the day.
Sunday’s final round will begin at 9:40 a.m. EDT, with the final pairing of Harrington and Sauers starting at 2:50 p.m.
Top of the leaderboard:
Padraig Harrington -11
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