Pádraig Harrington may say he’s hitting the ball better than ever but the numbers add up to 10 missed cuts from 22 strokeplay starts this year.
He’s never missed as many in a season before. In fact, he passed his career worst run of eight (1996 and 2009) in the Wyndham Championship a few weeks ago.
Reunited with the belly putter for the second round of the KLM Open having got back to the conventional short putter in round one, Harrington holed a couple of clutch putts coming down the stretch but missed the cut by one stroke in the end after adding a 69 to his opening 71 for a level par total.
Rookie Kevin Phelan (71-68) made the one under par cut on the mark on his professional debut thanks in part to Dutch amateur Rowin Caron, who finished inside the top 65 exactly, allowing 13 players tied for 66th to squeak in for the weekend.
Damien McGrane (70) and Paul McGinley (67) head the Irish challenge, tied for 11th on five under, just four shots behind leaders Miguel Angel Jimenez and Pablo Larrazabal.
Shane Lowry (69 68) is tied 28th, six off the pace on three under with Simon Thornton (70-68) a shot further back.
As Higgins and Phelan breathed a sigh of relief, Harrington was left to reflect on another week when his errors cost him dearly.
He could point to the triple bogey seven he made on the 10th on Thursday or the two opening bogeys he made at the start of Friday’s second round. “Such is life,” he said on Thursday when talking about his triple. “That’s the way it seems to be going right now. On another day I’d have got it up and down for a five…”
Harrington still smiles no matter what happens but at 92nd in the world, he has little to be smile about.
He needs an end to the season run of form similar to the one he had in 2009 if he’s to get anywhere close to the Top 50 spot he needs to put qualifying for the Masters and the US Open out of his mind before the start of the new season.
As things stand, he will be outside the Top 60 in the Race to Dubai tomorrow and playing catch up in the battle for a place in the season-ending, four-event Final Series that culminates with the gathering of the Top 60 in Dubai.
Making the cut and doing well in the Dunhill Links and the Portugal Masters is now crucial as he looks unlikely to qualify for BMW Masters at Lake Malaren or the HSBC Champions while the qualifying criteria for the 78-man Turkish Airlines Open field, which will include Tiger Woods, are unclear.
Also missing the cut in Holland was Peter Lawrie (71 69) who had identical rounds to Harrington.
Ranked 105th in the Race to Dubai this week with the Top 110 keeping their cards, Lawrie should be safe but cannot afford too many slip ups between now and the end of the regular season.
As for Waterford Castle rookie Phelan, he was suitably thrilled to make the cut in his first start as a professional especially on the back of last week’s Walker Cup and the late arrival of his clubs.
“I am happy enough to squeak in there,” he said. “I had a good birdie on the 15th to get to two under and bogeyed the 17th to go back to one under and made a good par on the 18th. So I’m happy enough. Usually I wouldn’t look at leaderboards but there are a lot of them out there and they’re hard to avoid. I guess I will have to get used to it.
“I am really enjoying it so far. I have spent a bit of time with the Irish lads this week so far and they have been really helping and really nice, giving me advice. It’s nice to play for a bit of money instead of pride all the time.
“I try to hit the ball the way I normally do, just get up and it it. But it is nice to make that step [into professional golf] because I have known I was going to turn pro for a while and it is nice to finally do it.
“It would have been nice to have [the Walker Cup] a bit more competitive there with the final scoreline but I played quite well myself, I had a good partnership with Gavin Moynihan and enjoyed the week.”
On the KLM Open at a course like Kennemer, he said: “I like this course. I wouldn’t be overly long and I hit it quite straight off the tee generally and it suits me quite well. It’s a good course as well, not just a little dinky course. You have to play well to score or you will be severely punished if you don’t hit it on line.”