PHOENIX — Padraig Harrington spent the afternoon hatching chicks and buying drinks. He will need a mix of luck to overtake Steven Alker for the Charles Schwab Trophy.
In the third round of the Charles Schwab Cup Championship on Saturday, Harrington shot a 9-under 62 to take a five-shot lead over Alker.
The two will pair up again for Sunday’s final round, with Harrington needing a win and Alker outside the top five to clinch the season-long Schwab title.
“I’ve always been a better chaser than leader,” Harrington said. “We’ll see what happens tomorrow, I’ve definitely given myself a few options.”
Harrington had four straight birdies on the back nine to reach 21 in the final round of the PGA Tour Championship. The run put him in a good mood, and he bought drinks for fans cheering him on the 15th tee at Phoenix Country Club.
The three-time PGA Tour major winner capped his bogey-free round with a two-putt birdie on No. 18. Alker struggled to make the putts, but shot 68 to reach 16 for his third straight bogey-free round. It gave him some cushion in the Schwab Cup race.
“It’s there for the taking,” Alker said. “I have a lot of searching to do now to win the race, but yes, sleep well and we will be fine.”
Brian Gay shot 66 and finished 15 under. Alex Sejaka is 14 under after a 63, while Retif Ghosn shot a 68 and is 13 under.
Bernhard Langer’s bid to match Hale Irwin’s career PGA Tour Champions record has fallen 45 wins short of a 70. He is 8 under.
Harrington got the round off to an impressive start, rolling in an eagle on the par-5 opening hole. The 51-year-old made four straight birdies starting on No. 11, adding two birdies to finish at 4-under 32.
Harrington almost took it out on the par-4 14th fairway, landing under a tree near the chain-link fence. He lands a shot at a bird that sneaks past her under his feet, gets a standing ovation from a cyclist who stops to watch from the fence.
“Nice shot Paddy!” he said. “I just knocked her out.”
Harrington made it to under 20.
On the next tee, Harrington challenged his fans to move their shade, asking fans to slide their way onto the tee. He hit his tee shot about 20 feet, laughed, laughed, laughed, and then opened his bag and spent $50 on fans.
Harrington missed the cut on the par-3 15th, but two-for birdie on the par-5 18th came close to his lowest round of the season.
“I was playing well until the end and I’m just looking forward to a good day like today,” he said.
Alker played the same steady game that led to 12 in two rounds, but he didn’t have the same magic as the Magician.
He had a birdie on No. 3 and another on the par-4 12th after coming close to taking care of his approach shot. After hitting the green on No. 18, Alker chipped in close and landed a birdie, leaving him in the final group with Harrington for Sunday’s final round.
The rest of the afternoon was a series of misses and up-and-downs after he hit his second shot on the par-4 17th.
“Padraig kicked me. [backside] Today, that’s basically what happened, Alker said.
Alker still dominates the Schwab Cup. A guy from the PGA Tour should earn a few more points to fall as far as he can to become the 50-plus circuit champion.