Nightmare nine ends Paddy Slam hopes

Padraig Harrington kissed the Masters title goodbye for another year when he ran up a quadruple bogey nine at the second hole of a torrid, third round 73 at Augusta National.

"These things happen. Obviously I didn’t expect to take a nine at the second but it happens in golf at times," Harrington said. "You have to put up with it. With 34 holes to go I am [thinking that I am] still in the tournament and can make some birdies. Somebody made 11 birdies yesterday so it is possible to make birdies.

"I did and could have made a few more. Probably could have clawed my way into some semblance of the tournament. I played okay but not really good enough."

The Dubliner, 37, was under pressure to perform well on Saturday as he began the day seven strokes off the pace after a luckless second rounds 73.

But his hopes were dashed in no uncertain terms when he drove into the trees at the 575-yard second, hit a tree with his attempted escape, not once but twice, and eventually got back to the fairway after being forced to play out of a stream.

He explained: "I hit it left off the tee. I was hitting a hybrid and trying to get it down short right of the green. I backed off it as I was afraid of hitting a root and actually hit a tree in front of me. Ricocheted into a hazard so I dropped it back where I had played it from.

"Hit the same tree again and this time it went into the water so I went into the water and played it out of there. Back to the fairway. Nice five iron to the front edge. Played a poor chip to 12 feet and missed the putt."

He recovered to turn in just one-over par 37 thanks to birdies at the fifth, eighth and ninth but then saw his momentum halted by bogeys at the 10th and 11th 

Birdies at the 13th and 14th were not enough to get him back to the race for the title.

As Angel Cabrera (69) and Kenny Perry (70) took the lead on 11-under par, it is up to Chad Campbell (9-under), Jim Furyk (8 under) and Steve Stricker (7 under) to do the chasing.

With soft conditions and more birdies than ever this year, there may be a chance that someone could storm through the pack with a 64.  Tiger Woods is seven strokes behind on 4-under after a 70.

Harrington added: "At one under par and just looking to play well tomorrow and move up the field. Just enjoy and gain some confidence in making a score. But three guys on 10, 11 and 12 it is definitely too far to catch them but I’ll still try my hardest tomorrow.

"I was annoyed I didn’t chip and putt on eight. I knew I had to stick in there as there wer 34 holes to go and anything could happen. This is a great course and there are opportunities. You can make birdies and eagles out there and I was focused on moving forward. I played quite nicely and freed up nicely and gave myself lots of opportunities."