Pádraig Harrington will head to “The Biggest Little City in the World” next week and hoping for a birdie bonanza that will keep his megabucks FedEx Cup challenge alive.
The Dublin is running out of time to qualify for the first FedEx Cup playoff event and remain on track to bank the $10m jackpot at September’s Tour Championship.
Worried about his low birdie-count, Harrington said at The Open: “I really need a good week because I am 118th in the FedEx standings.
“I’m not qualified for the WCG-Bridgestone Invitational at Bridgestone so I’m heading for the Biggest Little City in the World - Reno, Nevada - for the Reno-Tahoe Open.
“The problem is that I’ve made just six birdies this week and only six in the US Open. That won’t cut it in Reno.”
The Reno event is played opposite the WGC event in Ohio but with a prize find of just $3m compared to $8.75m and only 300 FedEx Cup points compared to 550, he knows he could end up outside the crucial Top 125 FedEx Cup points winners.
Reno is a gambling town but Harrington wants to avoid putting everything on one last throw of the dice in the US PGA Championship at Oak Hill the following week.
And while he can always add the Wyndham Championship to his schedule, he must be inside the top 125 in the FedEx standings to earn his place in the first of four play-off events - The Barclays at Liberty National from August 22-25.
After that the fields are reduced each week with only the Top-100 making the Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston, the Top-70 for the BMW Championship in Indiana and only the Top-30 qualifying for the end of season Tour Championship in Atlanta.
Harrington’s biggest problem is that Reno event is played under a Modified Stableford format.
Rather than strokeplay, the event awards eight points for an albatross, five for an eagle, two for a birdie, zero for a par, minus one for a bogey and minus three for a double bogey or worse.
That could mean a major headache for Harrington if he produces anything like the kind of form he’s shown this summer.
After making 50 pars and just six birdies in The Open, he rolled his eyes and joked: “If I turn up in Reno and have all those pars…”
He failed to birdie a par-four or a par-three at Muirfield and only had ONE POINT in last year’s final round in Reno as he came home 19th.
Explaining his struggle to hole birdie putts, he said: “It’s not that I’m hitting good shots all the time, but I’m hitting some good shots and not to make a birdie on a par-4 or par-3 the whole week, what are the odds of that?
“Seriously, what are the odds of that. You wouldn’t have to be very good to at least stumble into a birdie at some stage.
“I think just not making enough birdies kills your momentum. If you don’t make a birdie when you make a bogey you can’t find your way back.
“I holed no outrageous putts this week. Nothing. Whenever I did hit a good iron shot, especially the first day I think I nearly holed three iron shots and didn’t make birdie off any of them.
“They could have gone in when they were running by the hole. When things aren’t going for you it’s hard when you’re not making birdies to counteract the bogeys which are inevitable out there.
“You’re not going to hit perfect shots all and you’re going to get the odd bad break so you need to feel like you are making birdies to counteract that.
“I’m delighted with my putting, in that I’m knocking in the shorter putts. But when it’s a one-off putt for birdie I’m not trusting my read.
“Maybe I’m saving all these birdies up.
“When it turns, it turns and we’ll just try to be patient and wait for it to turn.”