Harrington kisses Amex hopes goodbye

By Brian Keogh

Frustrated Padraig Harrington kissed him chances of a million dollars goodbye when he admitted that he doesn’t know where the ball is going.

Harrington has had problems lining up his shots since he injured his neck at the US PGA Championship.

Now he’s a massive nine shots behind leader Tiger Woods on just five under par, despite finishing with two birdies for a solid but unspectacular 70.

He said: “When I think I’m lined up somewhere I’m not. I’ve been trying to correct it but sometimes my shoulders are aiming right and my hips are aiming left on longer shots.”

As Woods carded a second successive 65 to move into a two shot lead over Jerry Kelly on 14 under par, Harrington admitted that he got frustrated.

“I was pushing very hard and got a bit frustrated because the putts weren’t dropping, which was a bit unfortunate,” he said.

“I got a bit down that everything wasn’t going as I would have hoped but it’s hard when you aren’t holing the putts.

“Putting comes and goes. You have good weeks and you have bad weeks. I wouldn’t say there was anything wrong with my technique I’m just a bit lacking in confidence.”

Harrington carded four birdies and two bogeys yesterday to finish in a tie for 26th place with US PGA champion Rich Beem, Scott Hoch, Nick Price, Kenny Perry and Fred Funk.

But he was frustrated with his performance after starting the day with hopes of making a fast start and closing the gap on the leaders.

He said: “It was frustrating out there when you know the scoring is good. If you’re not making the birdies it’s tough. I was just trying a bit hard and trying to shoot a 65-66 to get up there on the leaderboard and went out there with expectations that were too high.

“Myself and Jeff Sluman actually salvaged something at then end of the round and that reminded me that I should have stayed patient.

“Can I still win? It’s not beyond the bounds of possibility but the scoring is pretty good. In these ideal conditions it looks like probably 16 or 18 under can win. It’s still there but there’s a lot of work to do.”

Harrington finished his round two hours before Woods and it now looks likely the winner will have to shoot better than 20 under par if conditions don’t deteriorate.

With no wind to speak of the world’s top players began to tear the course apart with 52 of 64 finishing under par for the two rounds.

American Kelly matched Woods’ 65 while Steve Lowery and David Toms are just three off the pace after rounds of 67, leaving Harrington miles behind, despite some solid golf.

Out in level par he followed a tap-in birdie at the 12th with a fine save for bogey at the 13th after pulling his drive 30 yards left into deep rough.

But he saved the day by picking up a birdie at the par five 17th and then rifling a five iron to eight feet at the last for another to card a 70.

And despite his alignment problems he’s still confident that he can sort out his game in time for the Ryder Cup.

“I’m struggling with my alignment. It’s the same with putting but on these good greens if I can hole a few putts I’ll be back.

“Because I was knocked back with the neck injury that’s caused the loss of a perception of where I am aiming basically. I’m quite happy with how things are going. It’s good that I’ve got another two rounds.

“I hit lots of good shots out there but sometimes I got a little uncomfortable with what’s happening on the putt and I’m doubting my alignment. It’s not 100 percent right and I’m doubting it a little bit on the golf course. It doesn’t feel right and I know what I need to do and work on. I’ll work on the set up and the putting as well.”

Harrington sacrificed his four iron for an extra wedge and almost paid the price at the 18th.

“I reckoned that I could get away with it and when I had 217 yards to the pin at the last and my caddie and I just smiled thinking, ‘did we get away all the way around with needing it’ and then need it. But I hit a lovely shot. I hit some lovely shots out there. But I also hit a lot of bad pitches.”

Harrington also had a word of sympathy for absentee Ryder Cup team mates - Paul McGinley, Jesper Parnevik, Phillip Price and Lee Westwood.

“It’s a pity the other guys aren’t here, ‘he said. “No matter how much time you spend on the range you can’t check things like alignment problems and feel on the golf course. You need to be out there competing.

“I think everyone who was invited last year should have got in this year. As it was cancelled for September 11 they should have added to the field. Nobody really minds if there are 65 to 76 in the field.

“It would have been nice but they set rules but they can’t just change the rules. “