Harrington one back in Portugal; Dunne projected 106th and safe
Anders Hansen. Picture: Getty Images

Anders Hansen. Picture: Getty Images

Pádraig Harrington will have a chance to win on the European Tour for the first time in eight years in Vilamoura on Sunday.

But he will have to come from a shot behind to claim the Portugal Masters and go past a Finnish journeyman trying to save his card  and a Dane who announced his retirement at this event exactly 12 months ago.

Mikko Korhonen is 116th in the Race to Dubai and needs to finish in the Top 10 to regain his card. But two time former BMW PGA champion Anders Hansen hardly needs the cash as he’s playing thanks to his place in the Top 40 career earners (he's 26th with €12,269,112).

On top of that, the 46-year old announced in Portugal last year that he was retiring after 419 events and three wins, although the door was always open for a return due to his career earnings exemption.

Either way, he’s delighted to share the lead with Korhonen after a nine under 62 left them tied on 18 under par, one ahead of Harrington., who shot a 67.

“Yeah, I’m happy with that,” said Harrington, who birdied the first, sixth, eighth and ninth to turn 31, then birdied the 10th to get to six under before playing the last eight holes in a somewhat shaky one over par.

“Obviously when I got it through 10 holes as I did, if I pushed on a couple, it would take a lot of people out of it — out of contention tomorrow. 

"Obviously there's plenty of guys now that feel they can shoot a low one in there, 8-, 9-, 10-under par as we've seen. Got to play well tomorrow. A lot of work to be done.”

Hanson admits he would not return to the tour full time, even if won on Sunday.

“When I decided to retire, I meant it but then the top 40 (career money list) came in and then they changed the rules so you only have to play five tournaments, so that’s why I’ve been doing this,” he said after making nine birdies.

"I’m very happy with my life. I’m very happy where I am and there is no re-think about starting playing golf full-time again, I’m very happy the way it is.

“It probably helps a little bit because it doesn’t really matter to me either way. I’m not going to come back and play full-time, that decision has been made so I’m just enjoying playing and being out here. 

“It’s nice to know that I can still do it, even though I’m not playing too much golf anymore. It’s a strange feeling to go out and shoot nine under in my position, but I’ll certainly take it!”

Asked his strategy at Victoria Clube de Golfe, Hansen added: “I didn’t really have a strategy. My aim was to go out and play, hit good shots and just try to enjoy it – and it turned out alright."

Hansen and Korhonen’s one-shot lead means little with the top 23 players covered by just six shots.

“You always want to have as many shots in hand as you can get,” Harrington said. "I won't say that it's easy to lead from the front. It’s definitely easier to, let's say, less stressful if you're a bit behind and you get some momentum.

“Guys at 12, 13, 14 might be a bit relaxed going out there and to make a few birdies early on, because they are relaxed, they have got momentum going into the back nine.

“Whereas, when you’re leading a tournament, you’ve always got one eye on not making a mistake. That’s the way it is.

"You could be through nine holes and level par and not quite feeling on top of your game. You could be still leading the tournament and feeling a little bit, you know, not 100 percent, I've missed a putt, or I'm a little tentative here.

"As I said, these guys, 12-, 13-under, could be having a great day, and there's nothing like momentum. So that's what I was saying, it would be nice if I was two or three shots further forward, because it really does take out those guys who could essentially have a big day. I won’t say get lucky, but have a big day tomorrow.”

As for Paul Dunne, who needs to be 111th or better in the Race to Dubai on Sunday night to keep his card after missing the cut, the Greystones man’s position remains strong.

Download the projected Race to Dubai standings — Excel - CSV

Ranked 101st starting the week, he is projected to finish 106th based on the third round finishing positions, more than €10,000 ahead Daniel Im, who is projected 111th leaving David Howell as the odd man out by less than €3,000.

In other words, bar a series of incredible final round performances by the likes of Jason Scrivener, Scott Jamieson, Chris Hanson, Oliver Fisher and Im, Dunne's card looks safe.

Defending champion Andy Sullivan, fellow Englishman Chris Paisley and Scot Paul Lawrie occupy third place on 16 under, one shot clear of another Scot, Marc Warren.

Korhonen was certainly happy

“I’m very much looking forward to the final round," he said. "It will be my first time in the last group on the final day, so I’m excited.

"I hope I can get a good night’s sleep tonight, then come out here tomorrow and play the same way again.

“I’m feeling confident and I’m playing well, so hopefully I can make some more birdies tomorrow and stay near the top of the leaderboard.

"It will be great fun to play with Anders and Padraig, they both have a lot of experience so it should be a great day.” 

As for the softer course, Harrington added: “The course was playing a little different, it was a little softer because of the rain but not incredibly different.

"But I’ve got to say, I think the course played very well. We had lift and place but we didn’t really need it, because the course held up well.”

Round Three Scores

195 A Hansen (Den) 67 66 62, M Korhonen (Fin) 64 67 64, 

196 Pádraig Harrington (Irl) 66 63 67, 

197 A Sullivan (Eng) 67 61 69, P Lawrie (Sco) 66 66 65, C Paisley  (Eng) 65 67 65, 

198 M Warren (Sco) 63 65 70, 

199 J Fahrbring (Swe) 65 64 70, N Elvira  (Esp) 65 67 67, C Shinkwin (Eng) 64 68 67, S Gallacher (Sco) 67 68 64, D Lipsky (USA) 64 66 69, 

200 N Colsaerts  (Bel) 67 70 63, J Lagergren (Swe) 66 66 68, T Fisher Jnr (RSA) 69 63 68, S Khan (Eng) 69 67 64, R Rock (Eng) 67 66 67, 

201 R Jacquelin (Fra) 66 65 70, R Ramsay  (Sco) 71 61 69, M Southgate  (Eng) 68 67 66, J Campillo (Esp) 69 64 68, D Horsey (Eng) 68 67 66, J Scrivener (Aus) 68 66 67, 

202 A Noren  (Swe) 67 67 68, A Cañizares  (Esp) 65 70 67, O Fisher  (Eng) 66 67 69, B Hebert  (Fra) 70 66 66, B Rumford (Aus) 67 66 69, G Storm  (Eng) 68 66 68, R Gouveia (Por) 66 68 68, 

203 J Hansen  (Den) 68 70 65, Y Yang (Kor) 70 68 65, G Coetzee (RSA) 66 68 69, T Fleetwood  (Eng) 67 68 68, S Dyson  (Eng) 67 65 71, E De La Riva  (Esp) 68 67 68, L Jensen (Den) 66 70 67, R Karlsson (Swe) 71 62 70, P Waring  (Eng) 67 64 72, T Linard (Fra) 71 65 67, D Drysdale (Sco) 69 65 69, 

204 J Walters (RSA) 67 66 71, P Hanson (Swe) 68 68 68, T Lewis (Eng) 71 65 68, S Jamieson  (Sco) 69 64 71, L Bjerregaard  (Den) 67 67 70, P Meesawat  (Tha) 67 67 70, T Aiken (RSA) 67 68 69, M Siem  (Ger) 67 67 70, 

205 R McEvoy  (Eng) 71 67 67, J Carlsson (Swe) 68 66 71, C Berardo (Fra) 70 66 69, R Paratore (Ita) 67 71 67, M Kieffer (Ger) 68 68 69, R Dinwiddie  (Eng) 68 68 69, N Bertasio (Ita) 69 68 68, A Wall (Eng) 69 68 68, F Aguilar (Chi) 71 67 67, F Fritsch  (Ger) 70 68 67, 

206 M Lundberg (Swe) 71 65 70, S Webster (Eng) 70 67 69, J Hugo  (RSA) 71 67 68, A Quiros  (Esp) 69 69 68, M Baldwin (Eng) 64 69 73, L Nemecz (Aut) 70 68 68, E España (Fra) 65 66 75, T Pieters  (Bel) 69 69 68, 

207 T Olesen (Den) 69 67 71, P Peterson (USA) 67 71 69, R Evans  (Eng) 66 71 70, 

208 M Ford (Eng) 69 69 70, J Parry (Eng) 69 68 71, 

209 D Im (USA) 68 68 73, P Edberg (Swe) 70 67 72, 

210 C Hanson (Eng) 68 68 74, N Fasth (Swe) 69 68 73, 

212 D Brooks (Eng) 69 69 74