Three-time Major winner Padraig Harrington will look to draw on overwhelming crowd support as he attempts to capture a second Irish Open title in five years at Royal Portrush.
Irishman Harrington shot a third-round level-par 72 to remain in a share of third place at 10-under-par, still two strokes off the lead heading into yesterday’s final round.
Welshman Jamie Donaldson, looking to secure a first European Tour success in more than 250 events, carded a 69 in rainy and windy conditions to move to 12 under par, one stroke clear of England’s Anthony Wall (67).
Donaldson, 36, began with a bogey, but immediately recovered with a superb eagle at the second hole.
“The eagle on two was pretty close to a ‘two,’ but it’s just nice to be back in the frame,” he said. “I have been knocking on the door a few times for that first win, so we’ve just got to keep playing the same way as I did today.”
Harrington had suggested at the close of day two he would rather be chasing and putting pressure on those in front, and when this was brought to Donaldson’s notice, the former Welsh Amateur champion responded: “The only person I’m really playing against is myself, so I have got to stay out of my own way and let the shots take care of themselves.”
Wall, 37, captured his only Tour title in winning the 2000 Alfred Dunhill Championship in South Africa and since then has managed just five second-place finishes.
The Surrey golfer declared his round, featuring six birdies and just one bogey, to be the best of his career to date.
“I would have to say that round today is close to the best I’ve ever had,” he said. “I shot 67 in the 2006 British Open at Hoylake, but given the conditions today that was easily my best.”
Wall is spending the week sharing the ￡600 (US$942) cost of sharing a nearby caravan with fellow English golfer Andrew Marshall, but if he captures a second Tour title he will earn a first prize check for 333,330 euros (US$422,000).
Harrington, who is looking to end a four-year drought without a win since capturing the 2008 PGA Championship, said he knew little of Donaldson or Wall.
“I’m not exactly sure of the form of the guys in front of me, nor do I know their track records,” said Harrington, who sits level on 10-under-par with England’s Mark Foster. “But I’ll be doing my thing and hoping I can keep my name up on that leader board and that brings pressure to bear.”
And after 30,721 spectators braved the rain and wind on day three, Harrington is hoping their support can lead to a 27th professional career title.