Padraig Harrington will tune into the Golf Channel in the US today praying that Jose Maria Olazabal shocks everyone by naming him as one of his two Ryder Cup wildcards.
But while a closing birdie gave him a final round 68 and share of 19th in The Barclays on two under, the 40-year old Dubliner knows in his heart of hearts that he was a dead man walking in New York last night having signed his Ryder Cup death warrant by following that brilliant opening 64 with a brace of 75s.
“It will be easier to talk about it after tomorrow,” Harrington said ominously. “I don’t want to give an opinion on not making it or anything like that until it officially happens. I’ve played six, I’ve won four out of six, I’d dearly love to be there.”
Harrrington knew he was on the outside looking in when Olazabal demanded something “extraordinary” from him at the US PGA.
When he opened with a 64 in New York, he appeared to have opened the door of hope but Olazabal slammed it shut by saying he needed “at least a win.”
His chances of a wildcard were on life support following those 75s and with Nicolas Colsaerts failed to oust Martin Kaymer from the 10 automatic places by finishing outside the top two in the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles yesterday, he merely awaits the coup de grace at high noon today.
In truth, Harrington cannot blame one tournament if he fails to get his second captain’s pick in a row. But if there was a glimmer of hope, he knows it was snuffed out by those middle rounds at Bethpage Black.
“I think it might have hurt my cause,” Harrington admitted. “When you’re out of sight from home, and I ended up playing probably the same golf all four days and it looks like I’ve played poorly day two and three.
“Two 75s on the card doesn’t look very good when you’re trying to show form but I’m playing well, what more can I do? I’m happy with that anyway. I’d rather be playing badly and picked but I’m happy that I’m playing well.”
Whatever way he argues his case, the three-time major knows that he has not delivered what Olazabal has been demanding all season - a win that would take him out of the wildcard debate.
As recently as May, Olazabal said: “Pádraig has shown signs of improvement and I know he is still not putting as well as he would like, but he has a few months ahead.”
By the time they got to the US PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, Harrington was still outside the automatic qualifiers and left needing a win to make the team on merit.
As Olazábal pointed out so bluntly at the US PGA, his putting has let him down. And the Spaniard made the point even more painfully at the Johnnie Walker Championship in Gleneagles on Friday, when denying categorically that a nine-year old Seve Trophy row was clouding his judgement on Harrington.
Shooting down the bias argument as “a lot of BS”, the Basque added: “He is an experienced player, obviously. But at the moment he has not been able to deliver. Period. Simple as that.”
Harrington also doubts that their Seve Trophy spat will have any bearing on the final decision.
But trying to argue that he played as well on Friday and Saturday as he did on Thursday, is not borne out by the facts.
Having used the blade just 26 times in that sensational 64, he needed 33 putts on Friday and 32 on Saturday before taking just 27 yesterday.
His lack of confidence and consistency with the putter - esecially when it comes to trusting his reads - has been his undoing for the best part of two years and Olazábal will have considered that fact as well as his poor recent record in the Ryder Cup when he rounds out his 12-man team at Gleneagles at noon today.
Unlike Colin Montgomerie, who had five rookies in his automatic nine before adding Edoardo Molinari, Harrington and Luke Donald as wildcards two years ago, Olazábal has no rookies amongst his top 10 this time and no need for Harrington’s vast experience.
Harrington’s best hope was that Colsaerts would get in at the expense of the struggling Martin Kaymer, leaving Olazábal to choose two between him, Ian Poulter and the out of form German for the two picks.
That has not happened and with Poulter considered a certainty for selection, Olazábal must now choose between Colsaerts, Harrington and a host of others including Spaniard Rafael Cabrera.
As vice-captain Darren Clarke pointed out to Scotland on Sunday’s John Huggan yesterday: “The final decision will be his and his alone. That’s how it has to be.
“One thing I will say is that this year probably won’t be as tough to figure out as 2010. That was very difficult. But Monty got it right and the team won. You can’t ask for more than that.”
With Medinah set up to favour a US team full of big hitters, Olazábal hinted in Scotland this week that he was looking for players with those characteristics. Harrington is one of the longest players on tour these days but Colsaerts is one of the top-three big hitters in world golf. He has also won the World Match Play this year and can putt. The Belgian also finished tied 19th in Scotland, matching harrington’s finish in New York.
American Nick Watney shot a 69 and won the Barclays by three strokes from Brandt Snedeker on 10 under par with Sergio Garcia a shot fruther back in joint third with Dustin Johnson after a 75.
Watney, Snedeker and Johnson need wildcards from skipper Davis Love III, who must choose four from the aforementioned trio, Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk and Rickie Fowler, to name but six
World No 1 Rory McIlroy, meanwhile, tied for 24th in New York on one under after a 72 and slipped from third to fourth in the FedEx Cup race as Tiger Woods slumped to a 76 to share 38th on one over.
The Holywood player did not break 30 putts in any round but hopes to recharge in time to contend in the Deutsche Bank at TPC Boston, starting next Friday.
“I think my putting just sort of let me down on the weekend a bit, but I think everyone was finding it tough out there on the greens,” McIlroy told PGATour.com. “They are not as smooth as we are used to at times. They were a little firm, they were a little bumpy.
“But I felt like I played well enough to be in contention, anyway, and you know, the putter just wasn’t working throughout the week. So I think that was the biggest disappointment of the week.”
“Even though it’s not the finish I would have wanted this week, still in a great position going into the next few weeks.”