McIlroy reaches career best world No 3 as Harrington freefall continues

How times have changed for Padraig Harrington and Rory McIlroy over the past three years.

In August 2008, when Harrington was winning his third major in the space of 13 months to equal his career best of third in the world rankings, McIlroy was still a month away from celebrating his first year in the professional ranks.

He’d only played in one major - the 2007 Open at Carnoustie, where he won the medal awarded to the leading amateur. But he wouldn’t play his first as a professional until the 2009 Masters.

Fast forward three years and Harrington is in freefall in the world rankings and now down two spots to 54th after finishing tied for 63rd and 16 shots behind winner Freddie Jacobson in the Travelers Championship in Connecticut on Sunday.

McIlroy, on the other hand, was on day three of his official US Open celebrations at home when he learned that Martin Kaymer’s failure to finish in the top eight in the BMW International Open in Munich (where Pablo Larrazabal beat Sergio Garcia at the fifth extra hole) meant that he had leapfrogged the German to reach a career high of third on the world.

McIlroy is also third in the Race to Dubai standings after nine events but you have to go down to 88th to find Harrington, whose next event will be the Scottish Open at Castle Stuart in preparation for the following week’s Open Championship at Sandwich.

Of course Harrington plays most his golf in the US but McIlroy is no longer a member of the PGA Tour because he finds its 15-event minimum to be far too demanding.

He was jaded by the time he reached the FedEx Cup play-offs last year but Harrington may not have to worry about them if he doesn’t find some form soon.

He’s had three top 10s from 12 US starts this year and yet he’s 105th in the FedEx Cup standings thanks mainly to his poor play from 75 to 100 yards (see stats and compare them to 2008).

Harrington’s waywardness off the tee is nothing new but he’s not getting the ball up and and with his wedges and it’s eroding his ability to confidently grind out a score the way he knows best.