Padraig Harrington took his beating before the tournament even started.
Jose Maria Olazabal’s brutally honest assessment of his Ryder Cup wildcard chances seemed almost cruel - there will almost certainly be no pick for Harrington - yet the Dubliner won’t slip quietly into the night just yet.
He knows he must do something “extraordinary” to earn his seventh successive Ryder Cup cap and while a second round 76 left him six shots off the lead, he believes he’s playing well enough to have the last sweet word.
If he wins the US PGA and his fourth major, he’ll make the team on merit or at the very least, force Olazabal’s hand. As things stand, the three-time major winner is on the outside looking in yet it could be argued that he’s playing far better than current qualifiers Sergio Garcia or Martin Kaymer, who missed the cut at Kiawah Island.
“I would love to have an exceptional week, but there you go, at least it’s clearer in my mind now,” he said of Olazabal’s dim view of his chances of a pick. “I won’t be waiting I won’t be waiting on (a call). Obviously I have to do something very good here or next week.”
Olazabal more or less shot down Harrington’s Ryder Cup chances earlier this week, while praising 10th ranked Garcia to the skies.
“Padraig has to do really extraordinarily well here. He’s well down the list,” the skipper said. “Padraig’s a very methodical player. He really works hard at it. I’ve played with him a couple of times during this year and from tee to green his game has been fairly good. But I think his putting has let him down this year so far.”
Harrington shrugged when asked to interpret Olazabal’s tone. He knows he’s not a runner.
“Well, he’s obviously got things in his mind,” Harrington said. “There certainly isn’t very much room for a pick for me. You know, obviously Ian Poulter is going to get one and there’s one left. Obviously I’m not in the reckoning as it stands. So I have to do something exceptional. At least it’s clear.”
Looking at the make up of the current top 10 from the European and World Points lists - McIlroy, Rose, McDowell, Lawrie, Francesco Molinari, Donald, Westwood, Hanson, Kaymer and Garcia - Harrington deducts that Olazabal has more than enough experience and wants to pick a rookie and the gutsy Poulter.
“Well, I get on with José but it’s quite clear,” Harrington said, hinting that their Seve Trophy bust up at El Saler is not a factor in this.
“With one pick already basically gone, it leaves very few options. There is nobody else who is not on the team who has not been there before. It has to be a rookie he’s thinking of picking, so there you go.”
There are 15 rookies outside the top 10 who are ahead of Harrington on the European Points list and six of those names are also higher than him on the world points list - Nicolas Colsaerts (missed cut), Rafael Cabrera Bello (missed cut), Gonzalo Fernandez Castaño (T15), Marcel Siem (T15), Simon Dyson (missed cut) and Fredrik Jacobson (T24).
When Harrington got one of Colin Montgomerie’s three wildcards in 2010, it was because of the lack of experience in the team. This time, it’s young blood that’s missing. There are no rookies currently inside the automatic qualifiers.
Having weathered the tough conditions on Friday better than most with a 76, Harrington believes he’s going to contend this week. And even if he fails to win, he plans to try and win the Barclays at Bethpage, the opening event of the FedEx Cup series, to try and impress the captain.
Ruling out next week’s Wyndham Championship as too small time to count in Olazabal’s book, he said: “Do you think that’s going to force his hand? I don’t think so.
“I shouldn’t be too far away here. I’m playing well enough and hitting the ball well enough. I just need to drop a few putts and chip a few close and we could be there at the end of the week.
“They changed the ruling for The Barclays [the wildcards are named after the event], so I’m going to play The Barclays and going to try and win there.”
As for his round, Harrington had ups and downs but dropped five shots and made just one birdie.
“Most of my bogeys came on the downwind holes. I drove it well again and hit my irons well again. Just a few loose mental shots and I said, just kept chipping it to six feet. It’s not easy to hole them out there. It’s a tough day when you’re putting in the crosswinds.”
Had he played better last year, Harrington knows he would have made the Ryder Cup team with relative ease.
“Look, I’m playing lovely golf. I can’t do anything more than I’ve done during the year. As I said I do rue the fact that I didn’t play in the four World events and I didn’t play in the two Tour Championships at the end of the year. Didn’t play in the Match Play and didn’t play in the guaranteed points in Sun City or Chevron.
“At the end of the day, when you’re not picking up those easy points, it’s hard to do things. Everywhere else I’ve played, you know, I’ve been happy and solid with my game.
“As I said, I don’t regret bogeying the last at the U.S. Open, but things like that ultimately cost me in The Ryder Cup table. But you know, such is life. Maybe the weekend here will go well and we won’t have to look back at the misses.”