Harrington storms clear in Jakarta before rain halts play

Sat Dec 6, 2014 7:36am EST
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JAKARTA (Reuters) - Ireland's Padraig Harrington put himself in a strong position to end his four-year victory drought by opening up a five-shot lead with 23 holes of the Indonesia Open remaining after Saturday's third round was cut short by poor weather.

The triple major champion has not won a full field tournament since lifting the 2010 Johor Open title on the Asian Tour but another four birdies over his 13 holes on the outskirts of Jakarta left him set to end that drought.

His 16-under-total was five better than nearest challenger, Australian Nathan Holman, with joint overnight leader Thanyakon Khrongpha a further shot back after struggling with his driver at the $750,000 Asian Tour event.

However, Harrington, who has slumped to 385th in the world rankings after a form slump following his 2007 and 2008 British Open wins, was wary about his commanding position.

"It is always difficult when you have the lead. You are a little bit cautious and it is something which I have to deal with," the 43-year-old, who also won the U.S. PGA Championship in 2008, told reporters.

"The last thing I want to do is go out there and be negative because that gives the rest of the field a chance. It is an awkward position to be in. It is never easy to lead. It is always easy to chase."

The Irishman, one of 46 players returning at 0640 local time to complete their third rounds, did win the 2012 PGA Grand Slam of Golf after stepping in for Rory McIlroy in the four-man event for the year's major winners.

Holman was one-under for his 13 holes and needs a strong showing on Sunday to help retain his Tour card for next year as he sits 95th on the order of merit with only the top 60 guaranteed playing rights next season.

Home hope George Gandranata was sitting in fourth on eight-under after he picked up three shots over his 16 holes on Saturday.

(Reporting by Patrick Johnston, editing by Ed Osmond)

Padraig Harrington of Ireland chips onto the 16th green during the second round of the PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, August 8, 2014. REUTERS/John Sommers II