Padraig Harrington was driven to distraction as he missed the cut by a massive eight shots in the US Open at Bethpage Black.

The reigning Open and US PGA hit just three of 14 fairways as he racked up a second successive 76 to finish on 12 over par and miss four successive cuts for the first time in his career

As American journeyman Ricky Barnes hit a 65 to slice a shot off the US Open 36 hole scoring record and lead by a shot on eight under par from Lucas Glover, Harrington was trying hard to look on the bright side.

“It can come round in a day,” said Harrington as he turned his thoughts to his bid for a hat-trick of Open titles at Turnberry next month. “This game is fickle in that way but I would believe that it can come around in four weeks and that by the time I tee it up at The Open that I will be ready.

“I suppose with current form there is more hope than expectation because there is not much to expect of, but I’ll do the same preparation for The Open as I did last year and that’s all I can do.

"Obviously I have had a bad run for the last four months but I have improved a few elements of my game that have been annoying me for the last couple of years . I just have to wait and let it come back.”

Harrington’s short game magic prevented him from shooting in the 80s but he was still disappointed to miss his fifth cut from his last six starts after getting to two under par after five holes of his second round with birdies at the 11th and 14th.

Bogeys at the 15th and 16th saw him turn in level par for the day but he frittered away shots at the second, fifth, seventh and eighth before racking up a double bogey at the ninth after losing a ball with a wild slice into the woods

Disappointed not to take advantage of his short game brilliance, he said: “I got the start I wanted really and then it was disappointing to lose it in the middle of the round with a few bad drives and I struggled to get it back after that.

“I don’t have any shape off the tee at the moment. If I hit a big draw or a big cut that would be fine. But I am aiming at the middle of fairway and have only half a fairway to aim at. If I hit a bad one I am poking and prodding it.”

Tiger Woods hit a 69 alongside Harrington but is still 11 shots adrift of Barnes on three over par with former Masters champion Mike Weir lurking alone in third on six under.

But Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy still believe they can come back to win the title after rounds of 72 and 70 left them on one-over and two over par respectively as 60 players set off from the first and 10th tees in last night’s third round.

McDowell said: “It leaves me nine shots back but I still feel like I am in this golf tournament. I am going to need a good one, a 66 or 67 in one of the rounds but I am playing well enough to do that.”

McIlroy also believes the leaders will come back to him on a course that is playing long and tough after weeks of wet weather in New York.

The Holywood idol insisted that four under par could still be the winning score and he’s set his sights on making another third round move this season after blasting rounds of 65 and 58 in the PGA at Wentworth and the European Open at the London Club in recent weeks.

“I think at the end of play on Monday or Tuesday that four under will have a good shot at winning this tournament,” said McIlroy, who played the remaining six holes of his second round in one over after getting just five and a half hours sleep. “If I go out and shoot two 67s at the weekend I have every chance in the world to win.”