"In the heat of the battle he has done very well.”

Jack Nicklaus has hailed Padraig Harrington as  a player who doesn't back off when he sees Tiger Woods in his sights.

But the Dubliner knows that he failed to deliver the kind of back nine performance that has the Golden Bear raving when he let victory slip from his grasp in the second leg of the FedExCup play-offs with Woods already half way home to Orlando.

Forced to settle for a share of fourth behind new world No 2 Steve Stricker in the Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston, the triple major winner was bitterly disappointed to let down his Irish American fans.

Consoled by a cheque for $310,000 (€213,000), Harrington said: "There were a lot of Irish people here, and they came out and supported me today. They would have liked to see me deliver. Unfortunately I didn't.

"I'm disappointed because it was in my control. I was leading the tournament, and going into the back nine it was mine to lose, and I lost it.

“I'll feel this loss a lot more than say some of the others because of the fact that it was mine for the winning."

Leading by a shot with nine to play, Harrington’s final round jinx struck again when bad drives at the 10th and 12th cost him three shots and ultimately, the title.

He bounced back with two late birdies to grab his fourth top ten in a row and a silver lining in terms of the FedExCup race as he earned enough points to move from 14th to seventh in the rankings with just two events to go in the megabucks series.

If he can get into the top five following this week’s BMW Championship in Chicago, he knows he will win the $10m bonus awarded to the FedExCup champion by outgunning Woods and claiming the season-ending Tour Championship in Atlanta.

The world No 9 also got his Ryder Cup qualifying campaign off to a solid start by going third in the world points list for Colin Montgomerie’s 2010 team.

But after finishing just two shots behind new FedExCup leader Stricker, he was gutted that he failed to produce the kind of back nine fireworks that have convinced Nicklaus that he is now Woods’ most dangerous rival.

Impressed by Harrington's gutsy performances in the majors, Nicklaus said: “Tiger is the only one who has been in the middle of it almost every time you turn around.

“But Harrington seems to do a pretty good job of it, certainly in the last couple of years. In the heat of the battle he has done very well.”

Harrington failed to win a major this year as his swing tinkering got out of hand and spilled over into the middle of the season.

Yet he has still been laughing all the way to the bank - earning $1.62m (€1.11m) in just 30 days or a cool $54,000 (€37,241) a day since the Bridgestone Invitational in Akron.

He handed that title to Woods by taking an eight on the 16th in the final round when he was under time pressure from a tour official.

But he then he took another eight in the final round of the US PGA when he was a shot off the lead with 11 holes to go.

In New York nine days ago, he was denied a play-off when Heath Slocum holed a 20-footer on the final green to snatch The Barclays.

The question is, has he got enough left in the tank to finally get the win he craves at Cog Hill in Chicago this week.

After a a year of multiple missed cuts, he's certainly not running on empty and if he finds Woods in his path, he has the right stuff to turn the most disappointing season of his career into one of the most memorable.