Houston, we have a problem

Peeved Padraig Harrington blew a top-10 finish in Houston and confessed: It's not the preparation I was looking for.

The Dubliner, 35, went to Texas with high hopes of a timely Masters boost.

But three bogeys in his last six holes saw him slump to a closing 72 and a share of 24th place behind Adam Scott at the Woodlands

After finishing nine shots behind the Aussie, he groaned: "I was going okay but I just finished poorly. A couple of things just didn't go right over the last six holes.

"I dropped three shots, including three-putting the last from 15 feet. That never leaves a nice taste in the mouth, but there you go.

"It was a good week in terms of working on things so I will take that into next week.

"But obviously I wasn't peaking this week so hopefully I will peak next week."

Harrington's poor finish and final hole bogey him cost him $20,000 and a cheque for $48,400 left him 43rd in the FedEx Cup standings.

But while he three-putted twice in his final round, the Dubliner's putting looks like his strongest suit heading to Augusta.

Despite taking a horror 34 putts on Sunday, the world No 10 is ranked third in putts per round on the PGA Tour this season.

Only Ernie Els and David Howell have fared better on the greens so far and Harrington will be more concerned with his iron play and driving as he prepares to make his eighth Masters start on Thursday.

Ranked 152nd for driving accuracy, he is still straighter than Masters favourites such as Tiger Woods, Justin Rose and Angel Cabrera.

But while Woods is ranked first in greens in regulation, Harrington is a lowly 134th and that will be a worry for him with precision with the irons a must at Augusta National.

He said: "That’s what makes it the most exciting major. It really does test you. Whether it’s a chip or an iron shot, if you hit it well, you have a birdie chance. If you are slightly out, it could be disaster.

"On other courses, if you miss the green you can chip and putt it, but at Augusta you can’t chip it out of the water.

"It is probably the toughest challenge of all the majors. You have to have your full game there.

"You don’t just have to putt well, you have to hit it straight, control your trajectory, control your spin, your distance, everything.

"It’s certainly the hardest one for me to win. If I don’t win the US Open, I will think I should have. The Masters is the one that drives me on to improve my swing."