Padraig Harrington wasn’t singing “The Fool on the Hill” as he was distracted by a photographer and double bogeyed the 18th at Whistling Straits to miss the halfway cut in the US PGA by a shot and leave himself requiring one of Colin Montgomerie’s three Ryder Cup wildcards.
Instead he took his latest major disappointment on the chin and expressed the hope that he has played well enough over the past year to merit a captain’s pick that would give him his sixth Ryder Cup cap at Celtic Manor in October.
“It would be silly to think that my last shot there is going to cost me a place in the team,” said Harrington of the four-hybrid he duffed into the hazard, 30 yards short of the green. “I hope Monty is a guy who looks through things and sees stats and 16 top tens in the last year is going to be a lot of comfort. I am sure he needs some experience in that team and some older guys.”
Having resumed his delayed second round on the seventh hole - three under for his round after some stellar play on Friday evening - the Dubliner was level par for the championship and one stroke inside the projected one-over par cut line with the terrifying 500-yard par four finishing hole to play
But the hole is not named Dye-abolical for nothing.
Having hit a perfect drive straight down the middle of the fairway , Harrington faced a 219-yard approach over a yawning chasm. But just as he was about to step up and hit his favourite hybrid club, a photographer traipsed across the back of the green, forcing him to step off his shot.
When he finally settled down to hit the most crucial approach of the season over Seven Mile Creek that meanders through the chasm in front of the massive green, Harrington hit it heavy and turned away in disgust.
The ball came up 30 yards short of its target, plunging into rocks and long grass on the far bank of the stream.
Faced with the possibility of dropping back to the fairway, more than 150 yards away, Harrington eventually chose to play from the heavy rough some 68 yards from the pin.
But his lob wedge approach had no spin and ran 12 feet past. From there he missed a quick swinging putt on the low side to card a one under par 71 for a two over par total that proved to be one stroke too many.
“I have done everything I can now and there is nothing more I can do,” Harrington said of his Ryder Cup qualifying bid.
But that is not quite true as he could always play this week’s Czech Open and then travel to Gleneagles for the final counting Johnnie Walker Championship.
A trip to Scotland rather than The Barclays in New Jersey for the first event of the FedExCup play-offs, would bring his US season to an end. But he cannot claim that he needs to play the FedEx Series to make up his mandatory 15-event minimum on the PGA Tour as he has now played 16 PGA Tour events.
While he is politically obliged to say that the European Tour’s flagship Ryder Cup is the fifth biggest event of his season after the majors, his priority is to satisfy his US sponsors “FTI” by playing the FedEx Cup series where the winner will take home a cool $10m.
And by skipping the chance to qualify by right, he is leaving himself open to the same level of criticism that was aimed at wildcard Ian Poulter in 2008, when the Englishman stayed in the US for the play-offs when he could have still have qualified automatically for Nick Faldo’s team
Harrington’s makes the case that chasing his place by criss-crossing the Atlantic is going to be detrimental to his form should he qualify automatically for a match in which he has struggled to perform in recent years.
“I have to be competitive and stick to my schedule,” Harrington said. “The Ryder Cup does come first and I want to play well in The Ryder Cup. And that means if I get picked I will be ready to play. That would be my attitude. There is no point playing the next two weeks and burning myself out.
“The Ryder Cup is the fifth biggest event of the year. I’d put the four majors ahead of it, but I’d put it ahead of the Irish Open.
“I schedule to peak four times a year and the fifth time is the Ryder Cup. It’s ahead of Race to Dubai, it is ahead of the FedEx Cup. The Fed Ex Cup is worth $10 million and the Ryder Cup is ahead of it in my mind. I’d rather play well that week.”
As for his poor record in recent matches - two halves from his last nine games in 2006 and 2008 - he admits that he can have no complaints if he is overlooked for a wildcard in a race that could also include Luke Donald, Paul Casey, Justin Rose, Edoardo Molinari and Miguel Angel Jimenez.
“I think if you get picked you have a real incentive to go and prove yourself, that’s for sure,” he said. “It’s down to the captain’s opinion now. He has plenty of choices. There’s no doubt about that and some of us are going to be disappointed. I just hope he can look through to the solid form.”
The second round was finally completed at 11.20 am local time with Matt Kuchar leading by a shot on seven under par from Nick Watney with Jim Furyk and JB Holmes two behind on six under.
Just two of the five Irish hopefuls made the cut with Rory McIlroy tied for fifth place, just three shots off the pace on five under par,
Tiger Woods was five strokes off the pace in joint 21st place on three under par after a second round 70 with Darren Clarke tied 50th on level par.