Bob Torrance will jet in to Dublin later this week hoping his expert eye will find a solution and arrest Padraig Harrington’s freefall to 41st in the latest world rankings.
The three time major winner missed the cut in the Volvo China Open by five shots last weekend, slipping out of the world’s top 40 for the first time since 26 March 2000, when he was 53rd.
Harrington rose to 37th the following week when he ended a run of seven second places in 11 months to claim victory at the Brasil Sao Paulo 500 Years Open in Rio.
But he has been falling steadily since he achieved his last career high of third in the world in February 2009, finishing 23rd in the world at the end of last year.
His failure in China was his third missed cut in his last four starts, a run that included his fifth missed cut in his last six major starts at the Masters.
Many wonder if Harrington is at the end of his career as a contender for major honours and on the slippery slope to eventual anonymity alongside the likes of waning stars Ernie Els, Jim Furyk, Retief Goosen, Vijay Singh and even Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods.
The emergence of a new generation of fearless stars has made the form of the former Big Five look positively pedestrian in comparison and Harrington certainly needs to find some form fast if he is not to slip out of the world’s top 50 and the World Golf Championships.
At the age of 39, his once fearless putting is now showing signs of wear and tear and the slew of swing changes he has made over the past two seasons have not given him any kind of consistency so far. By his own admission he “putted like a Womble” at Augusta, albeit suffering from a neck injury.
Writing on his website, Harrington offered his legion of followers little in the way of comfort.
“There’s wasn’t much to it other than I just didn’t play well enough,” he wrote on Monday. “I hit a lot of poor iron shots in the two rounds which meant that I didn’t give myself enough chances to hole putts.
“The course wasn’t tough and I knew that the scoring was always going to be good, but I wasn’t giving myself many decent chances whilst the rest of the field seemed to be making lots of birdies.”
Harrington confessed that he was pulling his irons in China and he will be hoping that Torrance can provide some sort of solution when they hunker down for some practive this week before he joins defending champion Rory McIlroy in next week’s Wells Fargo Championship at Quail Hollow.
“I pulled a number of iron shots during the two rounds or, if not, I was thinking about it too much which was off putting and proved to be a big distraction when over the ball,” Harrington added.
“On top of this I didn’t hole enough putts - I never missed a short putt in the two rounds but I didn’t hole many putts from outside ten feet. When you are not hitting your irons well and then not holing any putts it makes it very hard to shoot a score.”
It’s far too early to start writing Harrington off as a serious contender for majors but like Woods, he hasn’t raised a gallop since the 2009 US PGA at Hazeltine, where YE Yang smashed Tiger’s aura to smithereens.
Harrington never claimed he would be a world beater in his forties and while he has insisted in recent years that his career is now about longevity and contending until the age of 45 or 46, his body is showing signs of wear and tear.
His mind is his strongest tool but that too has been worn down by years of grinding and two years of ups and downs. While he continues to battle his demons, the young guns are playing fearless golf. Sooner or later, something is going to have to give and one fears for the older man in a young man’s world.