Padraig Harrington admits that the ban on square grooves is partly to blame for putting his career into a tailspin.
Two years ago the triple major winner insisted that the ban would play into his hands.
But as he prepared to dodge another FedEx Cup play-off bullet by making the top 100 who move forward from The Barclays in New Jersey this week, he confessed that life on tour hasn’t been so groovy since the game’s governing bodies clamped down on high spin clubs at the start of 2010.
Needing a top-30 finish to safely make next week’s Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston, Harrington said: “The groove change rule has made a massive change to my game. An incredibly big change. A massive change. I would say the game is a lot easier with the other grooves for me.”
The Dubliner represents the R&A as a global ambassador and has already forced a change in the rules this year after being disqualified in Abu Dhabi after a TV viewer called in an infraction he could not have been aware of without slow-mo replays.
Asked if he’d like to change a rule, he joked that he wouldn’t ban the long putter in case he wants to use it himself some day.
But he insisted that he’d have no problem if the bosses at St Andrews reversed their decision to outlaw deep grooves last year.
Down from sixth to 75th in the world since the rule came into effect, he said: “If I had a choice, I would much rather have the groove rule back for me and leave them with the belly putter.”
The rule was designed to make driving accuracy more important by preventing players from generating massive amounts of spin from the rough.
Six months before the rule was imposed, Harrington sounded bullish when he vowed: “I used the grooves to my advantage, big time, but I think it will be to my advantage when it changes.
“It will put more emphasis on strategy, on the mental side and on the short game. Therein lie all my strengths.”
It’s all gone wrong since then, however, and Harrington had to sweat to make the FedEx Cup play-offs as the 124th of the 125 qualifiers.
A top-30 finish this week would qualify him for the second event but he’s still targeting victory and the chance to win the $10m bonus.
Dreaming big, he said: “In order to win the FedExCup, you’re going to have to win one of the first three events, and the last event.
“I’ve got nearly the same chance as anybody else of winning this outright. So I just need to perform a little bit quicker than other guys.”
Struggling Graeme McDowell is ranked 93rd in the FedEx Cup standings but only needs to finish in the top-60 on Sunday night to progress to the second event in Boston.