Harrington gutted as he misses big chance

By Brian Keogh

Brave Padraig Harrington missed a golden chance to win the Open at Muirfield but insisted - I would do the same thing again.

One behind leader Ernie Els playing the 18th, Harrington felt he needed to birdie the last to have a chance of making a possible play-off.

But just as at the K Club two weeks ago, his strategy backfired.

Taking the driver off the tee he finished against the face of fairway bunker 200 yards from the pin and had to play out sideways onto the spectator path.

After a free drop to avoid the grandstand, he then hit the front of the green in three but his 40 foot par putt crept past the edge of the hole.

Harrington said: "I felt I needed a birdie if I was to get into a possible play-off and I would do the same again.

"I made all the right decisions throughout the day. Ernie was eight under at the times and who would expect him to play four of the easiest holes on the course in one-over par. I played them in one-under.

"In that situation I would prefer to take my chances of getting a birdie rather than in a five-man play-off. That way my destiny was in my own hands. Now I'm gutted but you have to make a decision."

Harrington felt that it was his putting that let him down in the end rather than his driver off the 18th tee.

But he feels confident that he has the full package necessary to win a Major championship in the very near future.

"If I look back at the day really I putted very poorly this week, changed putters during the tournament and kept mis-hitting putts and that cost me dearly today.

"I mishit a lot of putts and I had some good chances around the course. It obviously meant that going down 18 I felt I had to hit it stone cold dead in two.

"I was never going to hit three-iron, five iron into the middle of the green and a try to hole a putt from 20 feet. I was always trying to hit driver-wedge in close.

"I'm very happy with the way I played. I felt very comfortable all day, especially through the back nine I felt great and kept hitting it close. As I say I just didn't get the putts."

Four behind Els starting the day, Harrington birdied the fifth, seventh and eighth to get to within two shot of the lead.

But then came a frustrating spell of six two-putt greens in a row.

At the ninth he missed a six-footer for birdie and then saw five chances from between eight and 30 feet slip by at the next five holes.

A wedge to eight feet at the 15th got him to five under and although his eagle putt at the 17th pulled up inches short, he moved to within a short of Els with a hole to play.

Added Harrington: "I've got to say I fell very confident for the future because of the past. I was pleased with how I handled things. I just hit the ball well within myself all day. I hit it pretty close most of the day.

"My putting let me down this week but thankfully that's one of the stronger elements of my game. I just have to get it all together in a tournament. I had four three putts this week and I can't give away four shots like that."

At the time he didn't realise the consequences of his bogey at the last and his decision to hit the driver on the 449-yard finishing hole after hitting his one or three iron on the other three days.

"It was not a tough drive today. It's quite a straightforward tee shot down there with the wind off the right. It's disappointing that I hit a bad shot but I'm not too worried about it because I made plenty of good ones today."

But Harrington is more than confident that his day will come and that he has all the qualities

"I'm very, very confident about future prospects. It's a full package you need to win a major and I didn't have the putting this week. But I felt comfortable out there and that's the main thing. I don't think I need anything else."