Harrington takes 5-shot lead over Alker at Schwab Cup

PHOENIX (AP) — Padraig Harrington shot a 9-under 62 to take a five-shot lead over Steven Alker in the third round of the Charles Schwab Cup Championship on Saturday.

Harrington had four straight birdies on the back nine to reach 21 under in the PGA Tour Champions finale. The run put him in such a good mood he bought drinks for fans who had been giving him a hard time on the No. 15 tee at Phoenix Country Club.

The three-time PGA Tour major winner closed his bogey-free round with a two-putt birdie on No. 18, but he has some work to do if he's going to overtake Alker for the season-long Schwab Cup.

Alker struggled to get putts to fall and shot 68, but had his third straight bogey-free round to reach 16 under. Harrington has to win and have Alker finish outside the top five to win the Schwab Cup, which could be a tough task the way the 51-year-old Kiwi is hitting it.

Brian Gay shot 66 to reach 15 under. Alex Cejka is at 14 under after a 63, and Retief Goosen shot 68 to hit 13 under.

Bernhard Langer's bid to match Hale Irwin's career PGA Tour Champions record of 55 wins is out of reach after a 70. He's 8 under.

Canadian Stephen Ames is in sixth spot, nine shots back after carding a 3 under.

Harrington got his round off to a fantastic start, rolling in an eagle putt on the par-5 opening hole. The 51-year-old Irishman added two birdies to turn in 4-under 32 and reeled off four straight birdies starting on No. 11.

Harrington nearly drove it onto the street parallel to the par-4 14th, landing under a tree next to the chain-link fence. He slipped his approach shot under a limb and landed it for a tap-in birdie, earning kudos from a bicyclist who had stopped to watch through the fence.

“Great shot, Paddy!" he said. “Now knock it in.”

Harrington did to reach 20 under.

On the next tee, Harrington had a hard time getting fans in the grandstand to move their shadows, repeatedly asking them to slide over. He hit his tee shot to 20 feet, elicited laughs with a comment and then opened his wallet to hand out money to the fans in the front row.

Harrington missed the putt on the par-3 15th, but two-putted for birdie on the par-5 18th.

Alker played the same steady game that got him to 12 under through two rounds, but didn't have the same magic with the putter.

He had a birdie on No. 3 and another on the par-4 12th after nearly holing his approach shot. Alker chipped it up close after hitting it through the green on No. 18 and dropped in the birdie that will keep him in the final group with Harrington for Sunday’s final round.

The rest of the afternoon was a series of near misses and a nifty up-and-down for par after hitting his second shot through the par-4 17th.

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John Marshall, The Associated Press