Padraig Harrington’s Open challenge went as flat as his cap as he crashed to a three over 73 at Sandwich.

The Dubliner groaned that he tried too hard and then chipped and putted abysmally for most of the day as he racked up four bogeys and a double in the best of the weather.

But he still walked away with a smile on his face after fielding comments about an Andy Capp style cap that has become an internet sensation.

Harrington explained: “One of the Wilson guys has got cancer and so I said I would wear the badge and the cap helps the badge stand out.

“I am probably the only guy playing this week who has no opinion on it. Some guys love it, some guys are more positive than negative, but I don’t have an opinion. Hands up, who likes it?

“It’s just that one of the guys from my sponsors Wilson - a very young guy of 30 years of age - is ill with male cancer and the badge is there and the hat helps promote that.”

Harrington was four over par with three holes to play after a three-putt double bogey at the 15th.

But a birdie at the 17th lightened his mood and with three rounds to go he believes there’s plenty of time to repair the damage and challenge for the title.

Harrington said: “It was one of the those days. I missed a few greens and didn’t chip it very well. You want to chip well in windy conditions and I didn’t do that.

“I’m eight behind but there are 54 holes to go so you don’t have to do it all in one day. If I don’t make the cut, obviously I can’t win the tournament.

“But I don’t need to think about the cut, I need to think about having another 54 holes and playing well.”

Harrington knows that he cannot afford another bad day at the office, however, and confessed that he has to go easier on himself if he is to win major No 4.

He said: “I would be more demanding on myself for sure since I won three majors and that’s the area of my game that needs the most work.

“Ten years ago I would have been happy with making the cut and maybe five years ago I might have been happy to finish in the top 10.

“Neither of those do it for me now. It’s just that I over-try and I need to back off and let it happen.”

After a pulled tee shot at the first, he overshot the green and then came up short with his chip and run, missing an eight footer for par.

He pulled his next tee shot into the high dunes and bogeyed again when his approach ran off the green into a swale from where he was short sided and chipped 15 feet past.

Ever the fighter, Harrington hit back with a birdie at the 240-yard third when he hit a five-iron to seven feet and knocked in the putt with ease.

It was a rare success with the putter for the world No 57 who has suffered on the greens in recent months because of his lack of trust with the blade.

He’s struggled for confidence when lining up his putts and it cost him again on the front nine as he went to the turn in two over 37 with bogeys at the fifth and eighth cancelling out a lone birdie at the par-five seventh.

As the wind dropped, he steadied the ship with six straight pars but then three putted the 15th for a double bogey six to leave himself with a mountain to climb.

A birdie at the 17th gave him hope but he knows that he has to grab headlines for more than his headwear today.