Padraig Harrington cancelled a family holiday to tee it up in the Wyndham Championship in a last gasp bid to qualify for the first event of the FedEx Cup play-offs.
But while he hit more fairways than he has in along time and broke par in an opening round for the first time since July’s Barclays Scottish Open, his putter faltered when he needed it most and he could only manage a one under 69 that saw him slip three places to a projected 133rd in the FedEx Cup standings.
The Dubliner must finish in the top 125 on Sunday night to make sure of his place in the field at The Barclays in New Jersey next week but so low was the scoring on the opening day in Greensboro that his one under par effort left him just inside the projected cut line in a share of 67th place.
Americans Jeff Quinney and Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey shot seven under 63s to lead by a stroke from Australia’s Stuart Appleby with Paul Casey and Ernie Els shooting 65s to move into the top 125 in the FedEx Cup race.
Harrington played superbly on the back nine, his opening nine, as he went out in three under 32 thanks to birdies at the 11th, 13th and 15th.
But he stumbled on the way home, missing a five footer for par at the 174-yard third after bunkering his tee shot before three putting the third from 55 feet, missing a three footer for his par four.
A haul of 32 putts was not what Harrington was looking for in an event where he could need to finish in the top half of the field to have any chance of progressing to New Jersey next week.