Pádraig Harrington admits he needs luck on his side but he hasn’t given up hope of winning an Olympic medal in Rio on Sunday - even gold.
The Dubliner, 44, fired a four under par 67 to go into the final round in a five-way tie for seventh on five under par, seven strokes behind new leader Justin Rose.
As Seamus Power shot a three over 74 and fell 16 places to tied 26th on one under, Harrington revelled in blustery conditions to compile a six-birdie round that catapulted him 15 places up the leaderboard to five under par and within four shots of the bronze medal position.
Rose shot a six under 65 to lead by one stroke on 12 under par from Open champion, Henrik Stenson of Sweden, who signed for a 69.
But with overnight leader Marcus Fraser of Australia labouring to a one over 72 to sit alone in third on nine under, 10 players are within five shots of the bronze at least.
Harrington is not ruling out anything and while he was disappointed to bogeyed the 10th and 11th having gone to the turn in an immaculate, four under 32, he birdied the 16th and 17th to keep his medal hopes very much alive.
"Well, depends on how the leaders finish,” he said when asked if he had a shot tomorrow. “Obviously there's a few birdies coming home. Going out there today, you're trying to shoot eight under par or something like that to catch up.
“Obviously it got windy and reasonably blustery. Fabulous conditions for me. I'd like to play golf in these conditions every day.
“Nobody likes playing in the rain like yesterday, but when it's a nice breeze like that today, and warm weather, you can really work the golf ball. So it was fun playing out there.
“Again, I really rue 10 and 11 as missed opportunities. I could have made up three shots there and would have had a bumper day then, but it is what it is.
“I've left myself in a situation that to be honest, everything has to go for me tomorrow and fall into place. But I've been trying to stay patient. I'm going to wait and be patient, and you know, hopefully tomorrow is the day. “
Harrington is in Brazil to win gold and while seven strokes is a big advantage to concede to a player of Rose’s stature, he’s not settling for a medal of a lesser value just yet.
"Yeah, look, we're all trying to win the gold,” he said. “Second and third are great when you get them, but we're all trying to win the gold, no doubt about it.
“As I said before, every week, 156 guys tee it up, you have one winner, 155 losers. This week, 60 guys have teed it up and we're all Olympians, we're all winners. Everybody will walk away from this feeling like they have achieved something this week.”
Asked about the possibility of having to settle for a silver or bronze medal battle, he said: “Clearly depends on what way the leaderboard breaks. But if I was lying 60th at this event, I'd be trying my hardest on every shot tomorrow. If the best I can finish tomorrow is 10th, I'll be trying hard to finish 10th. That's my nature.
“So it's not a question of thinking there's a different tournament. There's one tournament, play your best, and see where you finish.”
Bubba Watson (67), Sweden’s David Lingmerth (68) and Argentina’s Emiliano Grillo (68) share fourth spot on six under with Harrington tied for seventh with Mikko Ilonen (66), Matt Kuchar (69), Gregory Bourdy (72) and Rafa Cabrera Bello (71).
Rickie Fowler shot a best of the week, seven under 64 to share 14th on three under.
As for leader Rose, he's happy to be in front but expecting a charge from the field.
Rose said: "Yeah, it feels great. Obviously I felt like today was an important day. There were a lot of players obviously in contention after yesterday I felt, and I felt like today could be a day to separate or at least keep some momentum and not give yourself too much work to do tomorrow.
"Obviously this tournament has been very, very special and very, very different for all of us, and like you say, you're always very aware of you're in the gold position and the silver and bronze position and after that, it doesn't mean a whole lot.
"I think the way it's all worked out going into tomorrow with me at 12, Henrik at 11 and Marcus at 9 and I next is at 6; that little bit of separation makes the final threeball a lot of fun to be a part of, and that's just the position I wanted to be in going into tomorrow.
"In terms of the oneshot lead, you know, I don't really read too much into that too many. It's like all the other sports; you work really hard to get into the final, and one oncetomorrow is about a great performance tomorrow and bringing your best golf when you need it. I have the opportunity and tomorrow is going to be fun."
Asked about a charge from the field, he said "Yeah, for sure. I'm sure someone will make a run at some point. But yeah, the guys at 6 and 5 and 4 and 3under, they are probably thinking if I can go out and shoot 7 or 8under par tomorrow, who knows what can happen. Because of that, they are going to probably be aggressive.
"It's the kind of golf course that lends itself to that, too. Depending on the weather; I think obviously this wind was quite tricky today and some of the holes played incredibly long.'
"I felt like could you make some birdies and eagles starting out the round, but there wasn't much on offer after you turned No. 10. 10 through 15 were playing very, very tough. I think depends on the weather a little bit tomorrow. But obviously they are going to be trying."
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