Three Euros within striking distance at PGA

Sunday August 10th, 2008

Look out Tommy Armour, the Europeans may finally be coming. The Scottish born U.S. citizen was the last European to get his hands on the Wanamaker Trophy, winning the 1930 PGA Championship. But three Europeans — Padraig Harrington, Sergio Garcia and Henrik Stenson — are all within striking distance this afternoon.

The 2007 and 2008 British Open champion, Harrington, shot a third-round 66. Garcia shot 69 and Stenson 68.

But, typically for Harrington, he still found fault in his third round. "Right at this moment I am disappointed," he said before heading back to bed to get a 60-minute power nap ahead of his fourth round warm-up routine. He said he is nowhere near mentally and physically where he should be.

"I am still losing my focus at times," Harrington said. "But you don't need to be 100 percent. I caught up six shots in the (British) Open in 2007, and as long as there are not too many bodies ahead of you, you can make up quite a big amount in the last round of a major."

The rain-soaked course is playing longer, and the greens are soft and receptive. The conditions are perfect for Stenson, one of the longest drivers on the European tour. He is finding the fairways at Oakland Hills (10 out of 14 in his third round) and hitting greens in regulation (15 out of 18).

Garcia will get another stab at throwing off that unwanted tag of Best Player Never To Have Won a Major. He has 13 top-10s in the majors but the W column is filled with a big fat zero.

"I need to get some of those good vibes from the Ryder Cup into my stroke-play game," Garcia told GOLF magazine earlier this year. "When I play with someone whose company I enjoy, or who I consider a friend, I play well."

He's got his wish for the fourth round. What better company could he have than his Ryder Cup mate Harrington on the course where they have so many good memories of drubbing the Americans in 2004?

Garcia has said he sometimes feels he is an unlucky golfer. Maybe his luck is about to change at the PGA Championship, the tournament that kick-started his rollercoaster career with that hop, skip and jump at Medinah in 1999. It's been a stellar year for Spain, with their soccer team winning the European Championship Finals, and Garcia's pal Rafael Nadal winning Wimbledon. Garcia said he is hoping to finish off a fabulous year.

\n"That's my goal," he said.

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