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Paul McGinley is looking for his first top-10 finish of 2007. (Andrew Redington/Getty Images)
Paul McGinley is looking for his first top-10 finish of 2007. (Andrew Redington/Getty Images)

I've still got a low round in me, says optimistic McGinley

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Paul McGinley isn't really thinking about winning the Open Championship on Sunday. But after a tidy Saturday 68 that he said could have been much better, the 2002 Ryder Cup hero is looking to close out by far his best week of the year.

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland (PA) -- Paul McGinley has sized up the task ahead of him after breathing life back into his Open Championship bid on Saturday.

The Dubliner, without a top-10 finish all season, shot a third-round 68 to climb to 3 under, but then spoke in glowing terms of Sergio Garcia.

"I'm very aware of who he is and how he plays," said McGinley. "I hold him in the highest esteem and, having been in three Ryder Cups with him, I know how big a heart he has.

"It's a big ask to catch him," he added. "But I am now one of 10 to 15 players who have a chance to win."

McGinley was lying second to the Spaniard after his opening 67, but then fell back into the pack with his second-round 75 -- and had real cause to rue a double-bogey 6 on the third.

Over the green in three, the 2002 Ryder Cup hero did not realize that under Open Championship rules, unlike European Tour rules in some regards, he was entitled to relief away from a sprinkler head in front of him.

He caught it on his first putt and took two more. Only after his round did he discover the error of his ways.

"What a clam I am," he said. And when the BBC's Gary Lineker brought up the subject on television Saturday, McGinley said: "You're trying to say I'm an idiot -- and you're right. It's not the referee's fault. It was nobody's fault but mine."

Concentrating on the task ahead rather what happened the day before, McGinley chipped in at the second.

"I got a Ryder Cup roar," he smiled. "It was great. I had plenty of adrenaline any way, but it was a lot of fun. You're playing in the British Open in front of massive crowds, and if you don't enjoy that you are in the wrong business."

He also birdied the fourth and ninth to turn in 33 and, after adding another on the long 14th, his only slip-up over the tough closing stretch was a bogey on the 248-yard 16th.

"I don't want to think about winning the British Open," he said. "It's one step at a time. I've got to wait for birdie opportunities. I'm very pleased with the way I played today and Thursday was the first time I've played decent all season."

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His Ryder Cup partner Padraig Harrington goes into the last day 3 under as well after matching his 68. Harrington did even better by grabbing three birdies in the first six and came back from a bogey on the 12th with another birdie at the next.

Harrington admitted it was Garcia's tournament to lose as the prospect of a first European major winner since Paul Lawrie here in 1999 came closer.

"I certainly would have felt a lot better with a couple more birdies," Harrington said. "A 68 was a nice return but probably not good enough to really get in there.

"I had three or four putts that just drifted by, but hopefully the patience I've shown today will pay off tomorrow," he explained. "I feel I have a low round in me. I just have to stay patient and let it happen. Hopefully it will happen tomorrow.

"But it's left it very much in Sergio's hands," he said. "He is very much in control. It's possible but a lot depends on him."

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