Padraig Harrington will head to Tucson and the WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship on Saturday still searching for his game after missing his second cut on the trot in the Northern Trust Open at Riviera.

After missing the cut at Pebble Beach last week, the reigning Open and US PGA champion birdied two of his last three holes but posted his second successive one-over par 72 to finish three shots outside the cut mark on two-over par.

He said: "I am going to go to Tucson tomorrow. There is nothing much wrong with the game so will probably do a little work in the short game and go over there. It means I will probably get an extra practice round on Sunday.

"There is nothing wrong with my game that a couple of putts or chip wouldn't help. I have been closer to finding it over the past two days that I have been over the last two weeks. The great thing is that I am experienced enough to know where I stand."

Work with mental coach Bob Rotella is top of Harrington's agenda next week after a bad week on the greens and an even worse week off the tee.

Yesterday, the Dubliner hit just two of 14 fairways and holed nothing more than a 12 footer for par at the eighth.

"I did some good work on my putting yesterday," he said. "But I putted horribly today."

Harrington dropped shots at the second and fourth and after failing with nine-foot birdie chances at the 10th and 11th, a poor drive cost at the 13th led to another bogey that effectively ended his chances of making the weekend

He picked up a shot at 16th, where his tee shot finished five inches from the cup and holed a six footer for birdie at the par-five 17th.

But he will be looking to find some form on the practice ground over the weekend before he faces the in-form Pat Perez in the first round in Tucson next Wednesday.

Graeme McDowell made the cut on the mark after grinding out a level par 71 thanks to a sensational birdie three at the 15th and three closing pars.

Set to face Zach Johnson next week, McDowell said: “I am trying to stay patient out there but it is early in the season.  I am expecting a lot of myself but my brain is seeing shots that my body can quite produce.

“I am hitting some really good shots and I am hitting some very average ones and throwing a lot of shots away in and around the greens."

McDowell birdied the first to get to two under for the tournament but bogeyed the fifth and sixth and then followed a birdie at the 11th with a sloppy bogey at the 14th that left him outside the projected cut mark on even par.

But he drilled a superb 189-yard six-iron to six inches a the 15th, saved par from seven feet at the next and then played the last two holes in regulation fashion.

He added: “It was a grind today but I think if you'd watched me for the first two rounds in Dubai, you'd have seen something pretty similar. I am just rusty. That is the only way to describe it. 

"There is a lot of good stuff in there to keep me confident. It was nice to make some decent swings coming down the stretch when I needed them.”

Americans Steve Stricker and Tommy Armour both shot 66 in perfect conditions to grab the clubhouse lead on eight under par.

But overnight leader Phil Mickelson failed to build on his opening 63 and carded a one over par 72 to fall back to seven-under.