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Putting errors cost Harrington as Honda hots up

Poulter leads the way but the Dubliner is back in contention

P ádraig Harrington’s putting woes caught up with him just when it looked as if he’d turned the corner in the Honda Classic.

The Dubliner missed a few “shorties” early in the day, then holed as series of clutch putts on Sunday afternoon to go into the final round just three shots behind new leader Ian Poulter. But just as quickly as he had moved right into the mix again, he missed twice inside five feet and dropped three shots in six holes to slip four shots off the pace with 11 holes of the final round remaining. 

In short, his hopes of a first PGA Tour win for six years, six months and 21 days are clearly on life support. Still, as he told Golfweek’s Alex Miceli, he’s optimistic: 

“The great thing about it, as bad a day as I’ve had, I have a chance tomorrow. I’m delighted to see the delay. For me, it’s the best possible thing that could have happened.... it certainly wasn’t great day for me... Hopefully tomorrow it will go my way, but it needs to at this stage. That’s the one problem I left myself. When I was 9 under par, it didn’t need to go my way. Now, it does. . . . It can be done.”

Poulter was still there at the head of affairs after another afternoon of car crash golf in what has become one of the PGA Tour’s most entertaining events in recent years.

The English star ended his day by making a brave, comeback birdie from about three feet at the par-three seventh, easing the pain of a spectacular shank into the lake that led to a double bogey five at the par-three fifth and a pull-hook into the water that cost him a bogey at the sixth.

At seven under par, two over for the final round, Poulter was tied for the lead with compatriot Paul Casey, who managed to play nine holes of the final round in an immaculate, four under 31 before play was suspended due to darkness.

US Ryder Cup star Patrick Reed is lurking just a shot off the lead on six under after a careless bogey at the seventh.

The bad news for Harrington is that while he is “only” four behind with 11 holes play, his putting under pressure looks highly unreliable and he’s tied for ninth with six players between him and the two Englishmen: the dogged Reed (7 holes), Daniel Berger (11 holes), Jeff Overton (10), Phil Mickelson (8 holes, facing a 10 footer for par on 9), Brendan Steele (8) and Russell Knox (8).

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