Big questions for Harrington

Pádraig Harrington broke his golden golfing rules and ended up in US Open hell at Torrey Pines.

The Open champion tried to play perfect golf but suffered a series of sickening, sucker punches to his psyche and failed to get up off the canvas.

Playing for nothing more than pride on the final day, he closed with a level par 71 to finish inside the top 50 on nine-over par - a bitterly disappointing display for a player who has made winning multiple Majors his career objective.

After opening with a 78, the Dubliner battled his way back into contention with a flawless 67 before imploding in dramatic fashion with a 77 on Saturday.

A four-putt on the sixth led to back-to-back double bogeys and Harrington hadn"t got the mental resilience to cope.

With just five weeks to go before his Open Championship defence at Royal Birkdale, the US Open disaster will act as a timely reminder that he must get back to the golfing basics that got him where he is today.

Coach Bob Torrance constantly reminds Harrington that while you strive for perfection in golf, you never attain it.

His mental coach, Dr Bob Rotella, is even the best-selling author of "Golf is Not a Game of Perfect."

Yet Harrington failed to live by his golfing creed and paid the price with a performance that will force him to reassess the win-or-nothing attitude he now takes into Majors.

Tied for 47th place entering the final round, 12 shots behind leader Tiger Woods, Harrington kissed the title goodbye on the sixth green on Saturday when he four-putted from 45 feet.

It was such a shock to the system that he had no way of coping mentally and double bogeyed the next as well before limping to the finish.

And he confessed afterwards that simply tried to hard to do everything right and gave himself no room at all for manoeuvre.

"There is an element of trying too hard, no question about that," he admitted. "The game is sound enough but not resilient enough.

"I should be a little more easy going on myself and not putting myself under so much stress to do everything correctly. You don"t have to do it right.

"I don"t have to be near perfect, I can manage to get it round fine without that. But I am definitely trying a little bit to hard.

"It took me a long time to settle the ship after the four-putt. I was struggling for the next six holes. So really that one four putt cost me six shots."

Yesterday he started with three solid pars before stiffing a sand shot on the fourth to remain level for the day.

Bogeys at the seventh, 11th and 12th left him on 12-over par for the championship before he camouflaged his disappointing performance with birdies at the 14th, 15th and 18th.

Reflecting on making three birdies in the last five holes, Harrington said: "It is always nice to do something like that. It was kind of a tale of two halves today.

"I played nicely early on and didn't hole the putts. Struggled a bit and made a few bogeys and then got the breaks at the end and made a few birdies."

Asked for his overall impressions of the week, Harrington pondered long and hard, adding: "I don't know what to think. I don't feel I need to change anything. I just need to stay patient and wait for it to be my turn again.

"Sometimes getting the right break here and there helps. I would have said that I stayed reasonable good all week but there was certainly an element of trying too hard.

"After I made mistakes I didn't recover very well. Today I was great over the last couple of holes. It is a strange game that way.

"Every time I hit a slack shot I ended up making bogey and sometimes I made bogey not even hitting slack shots. On day two everything went my way and I just have to hang around and wait for tournaments like that."

He now has two weeks off to recharge his batteries and prepare for his build up to the Open with appearances in the European Open at the London Club in Kent and the Irish PGA Championship at The European Club in Co Wicklow