Harrington on target at Target Challenge

Posted: Sunday, December 08, 2002

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) -- Padraig Harrington stole the script and the show from Tiger Woods in the Target World Challenge.

The Irishman overpowered the par 5s by making three eagles and lipping out another eagle putt. He wound up breaking the course record Saturday with a 9-under 63 to blow by Woods and seize a six-stroke lead.

Harrington was at 19-under 197, breaking by one stroke the 54-hole tournament record set in 2000 by Sergio Garcia. His six-stroke lead was the largest in the four-year history of the event. Vijay Singh had a four-shot lead through three rounds last year.

''That stuff usually happens to someone else,'' Harrington said.

Harrington trailed Woods by one stroke going into the third round, but already was two strokes ahead after the third hole. The lead only widened the longer they played.

Even more disheartening to Woods was that every time he appeared to have the advantage, Harrington took it away.

Harrington hit a 7-iron into 10 feet on No. 2 and holed the eagle putt, while Woods missed his eagle putt from 8 feet. On the fifth hole, Woods' 4-iron from 224 yards rode the ridge on the green to 6 feet for an eagle putt.

Back in the fairway, Harrington hit a lob wedge from 90 yards that hopped and rolled right into the cup for an eagle. Woods missed his putt.

Harrington made his third eagle on No. 11 when his 3-iron bounced off the pin and stopped inches away.

''I've never seen anything like that,'' Woods said of all the eagles. ''From what I'm told, he hit the pin on No. 11. How do you like that? Three eagles and he got a bad break.''

It got so ridiculous that when his 5-wood into another par 5, No. 13, faded gently toward the pin and rolled away, caddie Dave McNealey said, ''What's a guy got to do to make an albatross around here?''

Harrington's eagle putt on that hole caught the left lip and spun away. He had to settle for a birdie, but that only increased his lead to six shots when Woods took bogey.

It was the third hole on which there was a two-shot swing, all of them favoring Harrington.

All he has to do now is win the $3.8 million tournament.

Woods, who had a head cold and later tweaked his knee hitting out of the junk, had a 70 and was at 203.

Bernhard Langer made an unlikely bogey on the par-3 eighth by holing a 40-foot putt with 20 feet of break, and finished with a 67. He was at 204. David Toms (68) and Nick Price (70) were another stroke back.

Harrington is only concerned about Woods.

''It will be good to keep an eye on him,'' Harrington said, although Woods did most of the watching on another pleasant day at Sherwood Country Club.

Woods knew he was in for a long day when he walked out to the practice green and began lipping out all of his putts.

''I give up,'' he said sarcastically.

He tapped in a par putt with his wedge on the opening hole, and perhaps should have stuck with it since his putter wasn't too much help. Woods missed a 6-foot eagle on No. 2, three-putted from 25 feet on No. 3, missed a 4-foot par on No. 4 and a 6-footer for eagle on the next hole.

He made enough putts on the back nine to keep the lead from being insurmountable.

''I'm going to have to have a great front nine to have a realistic shot,'' Woods said. ''If I can get it close, you never know what can happen on the back nine.''

A year ago, he trailed Singh by four shots going into the back nine and wound up winning by three.

Harrington, however, showed no signs that he will buckle. He is the only player in the 16-man field who has broken 70 all three rounds.

''I'm going to try to hit the right shots every time,'' he said.

He hit all the right shots on Saturday, breaking the course record previously held by four other players -- and last matched by Woods' 64 in the final round last year.

''Shooting 70 on Sunday to win the tournament is a lot better than shooting 63 to set a course record,'' Harrington said. ''Maybe if I win tomorrow I'll call that one of my best rounds.''



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