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Padraig Harrington walks off the ninth hole during the third round of the U.S. Senior Open golf championship at Saucon Valley Country Club. Image Credit: AP

Padraig Harrington finally knows what it’s like to overpower a golf course, and it has the Irishman on the verge of a U.S. Senior Open title.

Harrington reached both par 5s in two, hitting 5-wood to 7 feet on the 608-yard 12th hole at Saucon Valley, and his 5-under 66 enabled him to open a five-shot lead Saturday going into the final round of the Senior Open.

Starting the third round with a one-shot lead over Steve Stricker, his Ryder Cup captain foe from Whistling Straits, Harrington birdied the opening two holes and was on his way.

He was at 12-under 201, five shots clear of former U.S. Senior Open champion Gene Sauers, who birdied the last two holes for a 68” and PGA Tour Champions rookie Rob Labritz (69).

Lost ground

Stricker couldn’t keep up after an opening birdie, and the par 5s is where the winning U.S. Ryder Cup captain really lost ground.

Harrington drilled a fairway metal into 25 feet on the 568-yard sixth hole, while Stricker hit a tree and had to flight a chip under the branches. he came up short of the green and made bogey. It was a two-shot swing when Harrington two-putted or birdie, for a four-shot margin.

And then on the 12th, Harrington blasted his 5-wood over the corner of the rough to a pin tucked on the left side. Stricker’s wedge went just through the green, his chip down the hill was too strong and he made another bogey. This turned out to be a three-shot swing when Harrington holed the eagle putt.