The worst season of Padraig Harrington’s career came to a shuddering halt in Greeensboro last night when a quadruple bogey eight at his second hole buried his remote hopes of squeaking into the FedEx Cup playoffs.
Needing a Top-25 finish in the Wyndham Championship just to make top 125 who qualify for The Barclays in New Jersey next week, Harrington missed his ninth cut of the season by eight shots after a second round 74 left him on seven over.
His previous worst campaign with regards to cuts came in 2009, when he missed eight in the first half of the season before racking up seven Top-6 finishes in his last eight starts.
What he wouldn’t give for a similar turnaround this year.
As things stand, he now misses the $10m FedEx Cup playoff series for the first time since it began six years ago and will take a week off before reappearing in the Celtic Manor Wales Open, Europe’s first Ryder Cup qualifying event.
Gathering world ranking points is Harrington’s big goal for the rest of the season and a win of any description would go a long way towards boosting his confidence, which has been eroded gradually since he won his third major in 2008.
As for the Wyndham Championship, Harrington went into the second round needing a four under par 66 just to make the one under par cut but instead carded a four over 74 to finish in the bottom dozen on seven over. it was his third consecutive missed cut in the US, his fifth in six starts and ninth this season -
As a result, he is projected to fall three places to 132nd in the FedEx Cup points list and while his tour card is safe - he’s inside the top 125 in the money list - he must now concentrate on making sure he qualifies for the season-ending DP World Tour Championship on the European Tour.
Forced to go for broke at Sedgefield Country Club in Friday’s second round having all but shot himself out of the tournament and the FedEx Cup with Thursday’s 73, Harrington’s day ended almost as soon as it began.
A hooked drive out of bounds at the 442-yard second, followed by a 333 yard drive into the water hazard forced him to drop. He then missed the green with his fifth and two-putted from seven feet for an eight.
It was his first quadruple bogey in the US since he a nine at the par-five second at Augusta National in the 2009 Masters - the hole that ended all talk of the Paddy Slam following Harrington’s back-to-back major wins in the Open and the US PGA the previous year.
He then birdied the fifth but bogeyed the sixth and drove out of bounds again at the ninth, racking up a double bogey six to turn in 41 before rallying to cover the back nine in two under 33.
While Friday’s second round was a cocktail of errors sprinkled with moments of genius, such as the birdie three he made from deep trouble at the 10th, the Dubliner is right when he says there are good things in his game.
Scoring has been his bugbear and an erratic short game and an ice cold putter have left him utterly toothless.
As he said in the build up: “It’s just been an odd year. I haven’t really scored very well. You know, I can’t put everything together in a given week.”
“You kind of have to have patience and accept that this is going to happen every so often and try and be patient to wait for it to turn around…”
Ever the optimist, he added: “But to be honest, I’m very happy with the state of my game at the moment and where it’s going, and if it doesn’t happen this week, I’m sure it will happen over the next number of weeks.”
With his 42nd birthday just two weeks away, Harrington will only find it more difficult to compete with a new generation of stars, such as the three pace-setters in Greensboro.
Patrick Reed shot a 64 to lead by a shot on 11 under par from fellow 23 year old John Huh, who carded a 62. Then there’s 20-year old Jordan Spieth in solo third on nine under after a 66.
The Texan has been a professional for only nine months but he broke through to win the John Deere Classic last month and is already ranked 54th in the world, having started the year at 809th.
Already 28 places ahead of Harrington, who was 59th at the start of year, only a dramatic turnaround in Harrington’s confidence on the greens will see them rub shoulders in the near future.
The 2014 Ryder Cup beckons for the American but Harrington’s hopes of returning to the fold will depend on him regaining that scoring touch.