AKRON, Ohio - Padraig Harrington responded to a late charge by Tiger Woods with one of his own Saturday and shot a 3-under 67 at rain-softened Firestone to build a three-shot lead going into the final round of the Bridgestone Invitational.
Woods put some life into a dreary afternoon of rain with four birdies over his last six holes for a 65 that left him tied for the lead when he walked off the course and fans chasing after him to cheer his charge.
It didn't last long, however, as Harrington ran off three birdies in a four-hole stretch to seize control. And even after the Irishman made a careless bogey on the par-5 16th, he answered with a 20-foot birdie on the 17th to restore his three-shot lead.
Of his 69 victories on the PGA Tour, Woods has only won five times when trailing by three shots or more after 54 holes. Two of those came earlier this year, when he made up a five-shot deficit at Bay Hill and a four-shot deficit at the Memorial.
Harrington was at 10-under 200.
Tim Clark also was tied for the lead early on the back nine. The rain made Firestone play even longer, and Clark had to hit longer clubs, which eventually caught up with him. It got even worse after his round, when Clark was penalized two shots for not replacing his ball mark on the 16th green. That gave him a 73.
Jerry Kelly had a 69 and was at 205. Ten players were another shot back, including the three major champions this year - Angel Cabrera, Lucas Glover and Stewart Cink, who each had a 68.
A week before the final major of the year, this could be quite an opening act.
Harrington has virtually disappeared this season while searching for the right swing. He only recently found the answer and finally has seen some results. He has a 54-hole lead for the first time since the 2007 Irish Open.
Woods, already a four-time winner this year, is going after his record seventh victory at the Bridgestone Invitational and his 16th victory in a World Golf Championship.
It will be the first time Woods and Harrington have played in the final pairing since the 2006 Dunlop Phoenix on the Japan Golf Tour, which featured a rare collapse by the world's No. 1 player. Woods blew a three-shot lead with six holes to play, then lost to Harrington on the second playoff hole.
Of his six victories at Firestone, Woods has trailed three times going into the final round.
This time, he was happy to even have a chance.
He missed a short par putt on the eighth hole for his only bogey and was six shots behind Harrington, who showed no indication he would come back to the field.
'I figured if I could put half a dent in that, I'd be all right,' Woods said. 'At least I'm there with a shot at it.'