St Andrews // Padraig Harrington has waited a long time to feel the vibes of contending in a major championship and the Irishman was thrilled to deliver under pressure in the British Open third round on Sunday.
The dual Open winner started so-called “moving day” at St Andrews back in the pack and knew he needed a low score on the Old Course to have any chance of keeping his dream alive of landing the prized Claret Jug for a third time.
“Today was very, very important,” Harrington, 43, said after a seven-under 65 sent him sprinting through the field.
“This is not a course that the leaders tend to come back on so you have to be there or thereabouts going into Monday.
“You’re realistically talking 16 or 17 under being a possible winning score and you are not going to do that from six or seven under.”
Harrington’s form has resembled the up and down motion of a violinist’s elbow this season.
The triple major winner lifted the Honda Classic title in Florida in March, his first regular tour victory for seven years, but has also missed 10 cuts on the US PGA Tour.
“The Honda was a really good week for me and I’ve struggled to emulate that,” said Harrington after finishing on 10-under 206 on Sunday. “It’s from the Honda that this (form) has come from this week.
“I’m certainly seeing some really nice things. All day today I felt really comfortable.”
It is not since the 2012 US Open at the Olympic Club that Harrington has featured prominently in the latter stages of a major but he is pleased to be right back in the thick of things.
“The Olympic Club was probably my last decent chance of winning a major,” he said. “Who cares about consistency? It’s more important to be erratic and win.
“I have to find a new way of playing golf, I’m not the person I was 10 years ago.
“We all gain scar tissue from experience and you have to deal with who you are now. It’s a new challenge and keeps me motivated.
“You can’t win your first major a second time can you? So I peaked,” said the 2008 US PGA Championship winner.
“I hope I’ll peak again but I’m sure enjoying trying to find a new way of playing golf with the new person I am.”
Follow us on twitter at @NatSportUAE