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Irish Independent
Irish Independent
Brian Keogh

Padraig Harrington looking to ‘free up’ in quest for third Champions Tour win as Leona falls back

Pádraig Harrington

Pádraig Harrington is looking to "free up" and play his normal swashbuckling game as he bids for his third win of the PGA Tour Champions season in the Ascension Charity Classic in St Louis and crucial points in his Charles Schwab Cup battle with Steven Alker.

Tied for the lead overnight with Bernhard Langer, the Dubliner turned in four-under 32 at Norwood Hills Country Club before making his first bogey of the week at the 10th.

Rather than upsetting the three-time Major winner, Harrington admitted he was almost happy.

The mistake reminded him not to be too careful and just to play with freedom and it worked as he mixed four birdies with two bogeys coming home and shot a five-under 66 to lead by a shot from Langer and Steve Stricker on 11-under par.

"It's nice to be the leader," said Harrington, who explained on Friday how he is adjusting his mental game to get used to playing with the lead, having been a different kind of player for most of his career.

"Can't ask for more than that. In some ways, I do feel like I was a little bit scrappy today. It was a bit more drama in it. Would have liked it to be simpler."

He added: "I certainly made a few defensive swings at times out there and hopefully that's got to be eliminated tomorrow, got to hit your shots and accept the consequences.

"Sometimes when you're out in front, you're minding yourself and protecting yourself a little bit too much.

"Somehow, I bogeyed my 10th hole and I was kind of happy because I hadn't made a bogey this week and it was getting the monkey off my back because if you're thinking like that, you're playing too conservative if you're trying to avoid bogeys.

"You've got to make a few bogeys to make a few birdies. Yeah, tomorrow, hopefully I free up a little bit and just hit my shots and see what the outcome is."

After two wins, four second places and another two top-10s in 12 starts on the over 50s circuit, Harrington is second in the Charles Schwab list to the ultra-consistent New Zealander Alker, who is three behind him in tied fifth on eight-under-par.

Darren Clarke is tied seventh, just four shots behind on seven-under after a 67.

Meanwhile, Leona Maguire is ten strokes behind American Ally Ewing heading into the final round of the Kroger Queen City Championship in Ohio.

The world number 15 double bogeyed the 18th at Kenwood Country Club in Cincinnati and shot a one-over 73 to fill to tied 18th on six-under.

Ewing shot 67 to leave by a shot from Italy’s Maria Fassi on 16-under with Stephanie Meadow tied 22nd on five-under after a 69

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