Assured Padraig Harrington looks ready to claim more silverware
Old master bossing young opponents in Prague
Sky Sports Golf, 12pm Sunday
Story so far
Andrea Pavan and Padraig Harrington, 50-1 and 100-1 ante-post, lead the Czech Masters with 18 holes to play at the Albatross Resort, Prague.
In-form European Tour maiden Pavan and three-times Major champion Harrington have both reached 17 under par through three rounds. Pavan is 11-8 favourite, with Harrington available at 7-4.
Asian Tour Order of Merit champion, Gavin Green, is alone in third place, three shots off the pace, while pre-tournament market leader, Thomas Pieters, is six shots adrift after a disappointing Saturday 71. The Belgian is a best-price 25-1 for a come-from-behind success.
-17 Andrea Pavan, Padraig Harrington
-14 Gavin Green
-13 Scott Jamieson
-12 Nino Bertasio, Phachara Khongwatmai, Tapio Pulkkanen
-11 Eddie Pepperell, Lee Slattery, Alexander Knappe, Thomas Pieters
11-8 A Pavan, 7-4 P Harrington, 12 G Green, 22 S Jamieson, 25 T Pieters, 40 N Bertasio, 45 E Pepperell, 55 T Pulkkanen, P Khongwatmai, 66 L Slattery, 150 bar
It is a surprise to see Andrea Pavan given the nod by bookmakers as clear Czech Masters favourite going into the final day.
Pavan has been in tidy form and is a four-time champion on the Challenge Tour, but he has the psychological hurdle of winning his maiden European Tour title to overcome. Playing partner Padraig Harrington already has 15 European Tour victories under his belt, including two Opens and a US PGA Championship.
Harrington's last success on this side of the pond came when he downgraded from the US Tour to win the Portugal Masters at the end of 2016, and the experienced Irishman is looking to repeat the trick.
Harrington has found some extra yardage with a swing modification – the hours tinkering on the practice ground paying off – and a long, soft Albatross track has been no problem for him. While other players with prettier swings were making mistakes on the par-fives in round three, Harrington birdied all four of them, the king of the grinders carding a bogey-free 65.
There are no pictures on the scorecard and it does not matter how you get the job done. There is nothing appealing on the eye about the work of Harrington – apart from when he gets a wedge in his hands around the greens – but it can be mighty effective and he has given himself a golden opportunity of lifting another trophy.
Thomas Pieters, in contrast, has given himself a mountain to climb after a gutbusting third-round 71 in which he needed 37 shots for the back-nine. The third hole and the 17th were the only ones where Pieters will have been happy with his performance – his driving was erratic all day and he was only one under par for the par-fives. He was level-par for the par-fives in round two and has wasted his day-one 64.
Pieters is obviously capable of conjuring Sunday fireworks – golf is a crazy game in which you can be abysmal one day and a world-beater the next – but confidence must have been dented by the lack of tee-shot control in the third round.
Third place may be as good as it gets for Pieters, with a similarly power-packed and gifted talent, Gavin Green, fancied for the runner-up spot, and Harrington tipped for the title. Pavan seems likely to tighten under final-round pressure, while Harrington will probably relish the spotlight.
3pts 7-4 Betfred
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