Padraig Harrington re-affirmed his position as one of the most consistent performers on The European Tour as he swept past John Daly and into the lead after the third round of the BMW International Open at Golfclub München Nord, Eichenried.
The Dubliner, who celebrated his 30th birthday the previous day, goes into the final round with a one shot lead over the 1995 Open champion after an imperious round of 62, ten under par, on a wet grey day which saw play delayed by two hours in the morning.
Daly, four ahead at halfway, shot a 68 to be within one stroke of Harrington, who is aiming to win after a run of five second place finishes this year.
Harrington, who is now seeking his fourth European Tour title, produced a staggering run between the third and eighth holes, running in five birdie putts and one for an eagle, to reach the turn in 29.
"I seemed to play nicely and everything I looked at on the greens was going in," Harrington said afterwards. "I tried to stay with it. I don’t think I’ve ever had a run of six holes in seven under par."
The birdies dried up somewhat on the back nine but he finished strongly with three in the last four holes to shoot in inward 33. That was enough to earn him that slender lead over Daly with Thoms Björn in third after a 65 for 197 while Thomas Levet moved into the frame for Ryder Cup honours.
Runner up in Munich two years ago, Harrington was also in no doubt about his task tomorrow. "This time round my mind is clear about what I’m going for: it’s first place or nothing."
Levet, who won the Victor Chandler British Masters at Woburn earlier in the year, made his bold showing with a superb third round 64, eight under par, which elevated him into a tie for fourth place and within striking distance of a Ryder Cup berth.
The affable Frenchman started his third round with a bogey but thereafter found the bottom of the cup with monotonous regularity. He birdied the second, fourth, sixth (missing a two footer for eagle) and the ninth to be out in 32.
He then reeled off five birdies in a row from the 11th to get to eight under for the day and came agonisingly close to picking off further birdies over the closing three holes.
Levet admitted he came to Munich fully aware of the fact that he simply had to win the title to have even an outside chance of qualifying for the team. Now, as challenge after challenger has either missed the cut or dropped away, he knows the door is still ajar.
“My only goal when I came here was the Number One spot in the tournament and if it happens it happens. It’s possible and now that I am in the hunt, maybe I can do it tomorrow.
“I have given myself a little chance, especially if I stay within six shots of the lead. There is one day to go and my last goal for the year, to make the Ryder Cup team, is still alive.”
While it was a good day for Levet, it was not so encouraging for some other players attempting to play their way into Sam Torrance’s side. José Maria Olazábal, lying third overnight, could only manage a two under par 70 to move to 14 under par, 8 shots off the pace.
Sergio Garcia, despite a back nine containing six threes, finished with a bogey six for a round of 69 and a 13 under par total of 203, nine behind Harrington. Dean Robertson, like Garcia, Levet and Olazábal requiring a victory to overtake Phillip Price in tenth place, carded a round of 70 for a 14 under par aggregate of 202.