Even though the fans had to get by without cheering for a Czech player on Saturday, none of whom made the cut at the D + D REAL Czech Masters, they were not short on a great audience experience. In the third round, players’ strokes were complicated by a strong wind, yet there were great performances to be seen. One of these was shown by Padraig Harrington.
The forty-four-year-old Irishman is playing great golf at Albatross. During his first three days at the course, he has had only one bogey, which was on Friday. On Saturday he once again signed a clean card, which was spiced up with seven birdies, and is in joint first place with Andreas Pavan before Sunday’s final. The Italian carded 65, just like Harrington. Together, they are leading the pack by three strokes on -17.
”It was very good today. Today was also not as warm as at the start of the tournament. My game is probably better suited to cooler and windier weather. Like the Irishman, I like these conditions more,” said Harrington with a smile on his face, as he mentioned the cool days of the previous days.
”The course is great, very interesting. When you take a risk, it can reward you. It’s not an entirely easy course, and you have to be able to make the most of the chances that are presented to you,” said the three-time major winner, who played at the Albatross course for the first time.
At Tuesday’s press conference, to which he incidentally came straight from the airport after a long flight from New York, he said he was happy to be in a position to travel to cities such as Prague and be able to enjoy not only playing golf.
Despite, or maybe because of this, he will play for his 16th career European Tour win on Sunday, and his first since the Portugal Masters in 2016. His other three victories are his triumphs at the majors in 2007 to 2008, when he won The Open twice and the PGA Championship once.
American John Daly is putting in a more than solidly performance, and, after the Czech players fell out of title contention, he attracted the biggest crowd of fans on the course (as was the case for Harrington later in the early evening). The 52-year-old veteran showed them some great strokes. But first he carded two bogeys on the fourth and the sixth.
But then began the ”Daly birdie show”. He carded five birdies on the next six holes. This included three in a row on the seventh, eight and ninth hole, and two in a row on the 11th and the 12th hole. He then carded his last bogey on the 13th. He did not add to his scorecard from that moment until the end of the round. On the 18th he missed a birdie putt by centimetres in front of a packed tribune.
”I just played some stupid bogey strokes, but otherwise it was OK. I hit my spots well, made some good putts. The mid-section of the round was good, as I made three birdies in a row and then another two more in a row,” commented Daly on Saturday.
“I almost made another birdie on the eighteen, I hit a good putt, but it deviated a bit in front of the hole, but even so it was a solid round in the wind,” said Long John in a pleased tone, who after the completion of 54 holes and a score of -7 is in joint 33rd place.
Lee Westwood and Danny Willett played together for the third day in a row. But only Willett managed to improve on a score of -6. ”My game was fine. Not great, not bad, just fine,” said Westy, who remained at – 6 after Saturday’s 72 strokes and holds 46th place ahead of the final.
“I am play quite decent so far. It wasn’t a bad three days,” said Willett. ”Again, not amazing golf, but maybe that will come tomorrow. It can always be better, but it was a challenging day with the wind that was blowing today. It wasn’t bad, but I hope to play better tomorrow,” added Willett, who is on the same score as Daly after three rounds (-7, T33).
After a great 64 strokes in the first round, Thomas Pieters slows down. Still, it is enough for a top 10 finish, when he carded 71 (-1) on Saturday. The same can be said for Eddie Pepperell. Both Ryder Cup hopefuls are six strokes behind the lead.