Paddy ahead by two shots, Tiger is out of the running
ALVESLOHE (Germany): Tiger Woods came off second-best to Europe's finest in the third round of the Deutsche Bank-SAP Open yesterday with Padraig Harrington clinging on to his lead as the pack closed in.
Needing a Tiger-like assault on the Gut Kaden course north of Hamburg, Woods failed to produce the goods despite having the best of the weather early in the day.
And he then had to watch from the clubhouse as a host of lesser lights sped past him to position themselves for today's finale.
By the end of the day, Harrington, leader by three strokes at the halfway stage, was still ahead after a two-under 70 for a 15-under-par total of 201, but his margin was down to two strokes over rising Northern Ireland star Graeme McDowell who had a 68.
One stroke further back was European number one Retief Goosen of South Africa (70) and the latest Danish contribution to the European tour, Mads Vibe-Hastrup who had a 66.
A batch of players were poised to strike on 11-under including Ulsterman Darren Clarke and last week's winner Paul Casey of England.
Barring a miracle, Woods was out of the picture after a 70 left him on six-under, nine strokes off the pace.
“I fell asleep a couple of times on the golf course today and I just didn't make the putts I was making in the first two rounds,” said Harrington.
“That was disappointing because I could have have taken a substantial lead into tomorrow.”
The 23-year-old McDowell said he was looking forward to playing for the first time ever with his “role model” Harrington in Sunday's last pairing.
“It's nice to be back in contention rather than making up the numbers at the back of the bus,” said the Irishman who scored his debut win in last year's Scandinavian Masters.
Harrington, a runner-up 19 times in his career said with Woods out of the running, he was his own worst enemy and it looked that way early on as his three-shot advantage evaporated in the space of a handful of holes.
An on-fire Clarke was the first to catch him with four birdies in six holes and soon the Dubliner was in danger of being sucked back into the pack.
But birdies at the sixth and seventh stiffened his resolve and he grafted on bravely as the benign early conditions gave way to a spell of squalling rain and a chill wind.
Clarke, meanwhile, came to grief on the par-three 16th when he thinned his bunker shot over the green into thick bushes. Obliged to drop back in the same bunker he crawled off with a damaging five.
Woods started the day four-under-par, nine strokes adrift of pace-setter Harrington.
But after birdies at the fourth and the sixth set abuzz the huge crowds following him, a morale-sapping bogey-five at the seventh took the wind out of his sails.
Woods reached the turn in 35 and despite another birdie at the 10th, he could only par his way in for a disappointing 70. – AFP