Padraig Harrington got a win on Sunday at Pebble Beach, just not the one he needed to climb high enough in the world rankings to qualify for next week’s WGC-Accenture Match Play.
The Dubliner closed with a two under 70 to finish tied for seventh on 10 under, seven strokes behind impressive winner Phil Mickelson, whose stunning 64 gave him his 40th PGA Tour title by two shots from overnight leader Charlie Wi (72) on 17 under.
As Tiger Woods had a nightmare on the greens alongside Mickelson, missing five times from inside five feet en route to a three over 75 and 15th place, Harrington and amateur partner JP McManus had to sweat just to share the team prize with Brian Harman and Gregg Ontiveros on 35 under par after a 68. Pro-Am scores
“This is probably close to 20 of these at this stage,” Harrington said of his latest event alongside the 14-handicap millionaire gambler, businessman and racehorse owner from Limerick. “We have played Dunhills in Europe and the AT&T now for a seventh year, and this is the best I’ve seen him play
“He really hit the golf ball great and hit some putts, he hit putts at times that pros would liked to have hit. He holed some great pressure putts and the last two days we were leading and it’s always tough when you are leading, you’re a little bit more cautious and you’re a little bit safer.
“Even though we had a big lead, you knew it was going to come right down to a stretch, his birdie on 16 was exactly what we needed at the time. We got one on 17 and obviously 18 was a little bit of a struggle after a while, but it worked out.”
Harrington had to hole a seven-foot par putt at the 18th to claim his third pro-am win with McManus.
“I never doubted Padraig,” McManus said, adding that he’d “messed up” at the 18th after a good drive.
But while Harrington will, no doubt, see the glass as being half full after putting beautifully to make 21 birdies in four rounds - two more than Mickelson - he knows it could have been so much better.
He dropped four shots in his last five holes at Spyglass Hill when just two shots off the lead on Saturday to slip seven shots off the pace with a round to go.
Then on Sunday, he made a double bogey seven the par-five second to leave himself an impossible task.
Where these mental errors are coming from is anyone’s guess but Harrington knows he has a problem to solve before he can hope to return to the world’s elite and can look to Mickelson for inspiration when it comes to dispelling doubts.
Wi’s four-putt double bogey at the first hole nullified Harrington’s error at the second, where he went way left of the green in two and took four more to get down after a drop.
Harrington took advantage to fire four birdies in the next five holes - at the third, fourth, sixth and seven _ but went into neutral after that as Mickelson slammed the foot to the floor to win in hugely impressive fashion.
The four-time major winner turned a six-shot deficit into a two-shot lead in just six holes to blow Harrington, Woods and the rest of the field away.
The Irish star was just two behind when he birdied the seventh but Mickelson eagled the sixth to move four clear of him on 14 under par and kept on going.
The Dubliner did brilliantly just to keep his round ticking over, holing a series of lengthy par putts at the eighth, ninth and 10th to keep his slim title hopes alive.
But when it came to holing putts for birdies he crucially missed from eight feet at the 11th and five feet at the 12th before eventually losing all momentum with a bogey at the 13th.
From there his attention turned to the team prize and a birdie by McManus at the 16th, followed by one of his own from 12 feet at the iconic 17th, left them tied for the lead playing the last.
A birdie would have given them an outright victory but it all came down to Harrington in the end and he had to sweat just to make par after his 41-yard third from heavy rough plummeted into the front bunker.
Needing to get up and down to avoid losing an event they had led by seven at one stage and by three shots with a round to go, Harrington duly holed his seven footer to secure a share of the spoils.
He paid tribute to 14-handicapper McManus but no doubt will be rue his unforced errors and the seven bogeys and two double bogeys he made over 72 holes.
Needing a win to move into the world’s top 65 and earn a place in the WGC-Accenture Match Play in Tucson next week, Harrington moved up just seven places to 86th.
But will go to week’s Northern Trust Open at Riviera buoyed by a superp putting performance in general, especially in the final round, when he had 24 putts and could easily have had just 22.
A win at Riviera, where he has finished second before, would catapult him back into the world’s top 50 and secure his place in the seond WGC of the season.
Looking at Mickelson, he will know that he can do it after a torrid run over the past few years.
The left-hander from San Diego now 41, hadn’t won on tour since last year’s Shell Houston Open on the eve of the Masters and falled from third to 17th in the world rankings.
But if the left-hander was ecstatic following his sublime, eight-birdie effort, Woods looked thoroughly dejected.
The former world No 1 simply fell apart on the greens under Mickelson’s birdie barrage
In all, Woods had 31 putts, missing from five feet for birdie at the second, from two feet for par at the seventh, from five feet for par at the eighth and just inside 10 feet at the ninth
“I just could not get comfortable where I could get to see my line,” Woods said. “I missed a ton of short putts.
“It was frustrating. I was looking for 2-3 under though the first six or seven holes and Phil is the one who got off to that start.”
There was a glimmer of hope on the par-3 12th, where Woods holed out for birdie from the bunker after Mickelson sent a flop shot 30 feet past the hole. But Mickelson rolled in his par putt and continued to give an exhibition as Woods’ confidence visibly waned.
“I thought I had a chance to get up there in the middle of the round and instead I went the other way,” Woods said. “I didn’t hit it as bad as the score indicated, but I putted awful.
“As good as I felt on the greens yesterday, I felt bad today. Anything I tried to do wasn’t working. Consequently, I made a ton of mistakes on the green.”
After birdies at the second, third and fifth and that eagle three at the sixth, Mickelson went to the last with a three shot lead after birdies at the 13th and 14th.
Wi finished with three straight birdies to take solo second after a 72 but the hero of the hour was Mickelson, who laid up with a four iron off the tee at the last but still made birdie.
“It feels just amazing,” said Mickelson, who overtook Graeme McDowell to move to 11th in he world. “I felt like my game was there, but coming out the first couple of weeks, I posted some horrendous scores and started to question it. To be able to play the way I did the last 18 holes really means a lot.”
Mickelson added: “I felt like my game was so close heading into the season, and yet my scores didn’t reflect how I felt I was playing [his three starts before Pebble Beach read T49-MC-T26]. And to put it together this week and especially the final round with this round just feels terrific, and it gives me a lot of confidence but also inspires me because I believe now more so that what I’m doing is correct and that I’m able to play some of my best golf.”