Harrington in danger of missing Tour Championship

Padraig Harrington has won two major championships this year, but is in serious danger of failing to qualify for the grand finale of the PGA Tour season, the Tour Championship.

Only the top 30 players on the points standings after next week's BMW Championship will qualify for the following event, the Tour Championship.

Harrington came into this week's Deutsche Bank Championship 23rd in the standings, but is almost certain to miss the cut after a miserable four-over-par 75 in Friday's opening round at the Boston TPC.

Two birdies and two bogeys let him on level par for the day but he ran up a triple bogey eight at the par-five 18th.

Just 199 yards from the pin after a perfect tee shot, he pulled his approach, tried to play out of a water hazard, hit his next shot off a rock into the water, took a penalty drop and then failed with a four and half foot putt.

If he misses the cut, he is projected to slip to 49th in the standings and will need a stellar performance in next week's BMW Championship to climb into the top 30 who qualify for Tour Championship.

The prospect of the Tour Championship being played without Harrington and the injured Tiger Woods must be worrying for commissioner Tim Finchem, who already has seen television ratings plummet to minuscule levels since Woods left the competitive scene in June.

Ian Poulter, never afraid to venture an opinion, believes it is outrageous that Harrington might not qualify for the Tour Championship.

"It amazes me that Padraig could have an average week this week and next week and not be in the Tour Championship," Poulter said.

"He's won two majors, for goodness sake. How can you have a double major winner that very year not make the Tour Championship?

"That's complete and utter nonsense. Do you think Coca-Cola (sponsor of the Tour Championship) will be happy if a double major winner is not there?"

Harrington's predicament is a result of the tour's revamping the way points are awarded in its four-event play-off series.

Players who miss the cut in the first two events drop precipitously in the standings, and Harrington missed the cut last week and is likely to do so here.

Conversely, a player who barely scraped into the 144-man field for the first play-off event last week could quite easily win the play-off series, and its 10 million payout.

"I find it mind blowing you can win $10 million for getting hot for two weeks," said Poulter. "That freaks me out - it's nuts."