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Padraig Harrington
Padraig Harrington played himself right back into contention on Saturday. (Squire/Getty Images)

Harrington eager to take another run at Woods on Sunday

A closing bogey knocked Padraig Harrington two shots away from Tiger Woods, which disappointed Harrington. But, he says, it's how he plays on Sunday, not who he plays with, that will decide his fate.

By Craig Dolch, Special to

CHASKA, Minn. -- Padraig Harrington’s final-hole bogey Saturday not only dropped him two shots behind Tiger Woods, it appeared to cost him a chance to once again play with Woods in Sunday’s final round of the 91st PGA Championship at Hazeltine National.

Harrington was bummed about both situations.

“I don’t think I have a choice,” Harrington said, when asked if he would have preferred to be paired with Woods. “I think I would rather (been paired). I think it would suit me better to have that sort of match-play style.  I think I will get into it and hopefully raise my game.”

No question most golf fans wanted to see Woods (71-208) and Harrington (69-210) play together again. The two players have combined to win seven of the last 13 majors and both have spoken of their respect for each other.

And they may still get to see Woods and Harrington in the final group. About an hour after play ended Saturday, with rain pouring at Hazeltine, PGA of America officials announced they might switch to threesomes off both tees in the final round if bad weather prevents them from starting as planned at 7:36. That move, of course, would add Harrington to the final group.

Harrington more than held his own battling Woods in the final group of last week’s World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational, holding a one-shot lead before a disastrous triple bogey on the par-5 16th hole -- not long after both players had been put on the clock. Woods eventually won by three shots over Harrington and Robert Allenby.

PGA of America officials also paired Woods and Harrington in the first two rounds of the PGA. Woods shot rounds of 67 and 70 to take a four-shot lead after 36 holes, with Harrington looming after shooting 68-73.

Harrington, playing two groups ahead of Woods, caught the world’s No. 1 player atop the leader board Saturday with a birdie at Hazeltine’s 14th hole. Woods regained the lead when he chipped in at No. 14 for birdie. When Harrington bogeyed the 18th, Honda Classic winner Y.E. Yang (67-210) landed a spot in the final pairing because he finished his round before Harrington.

Woods has made no secret of his admiration for Harrington’s gritty style -- Woods blasted European Tour rules official John Paramor for putting the players on the clock at Bridgestone -- but admitted he was fine with not playing with the Irishman again.

“Well, no, because if I was, I'd have a one-shot lead,” Woods said, grinning. “Just kind of the way it turns out. Y.E. played just a great round of golf today, shooting 67, and he got himself into the final pairing and Paddy put himself right back in the tournament.  It will be a fun day tomorrow and hopefully we can get it in.”

Harrington knows it’s how he plays, not he plays with, that will decide if he defends his PGA Championship title or Woods ties Walter Hagen and Jack Nicklaus by hoisting the Wanamaker Trophy for the fifth time.      

“I don't think 10 minutes of a tee time is going to affect,” Harrington said. “It's not like I'm going to be posting or getting different weather than him or anything. I don't think that's going to have any effect on it.

“Obviously, the effect is being there and watching him hit shots and get a feel for how it's all going.  I'm not going to be in that group and so I'm just going to have to do my own thing.”

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