Putting undoes Scott and Harrington
Tournament winner Matt Every. Picture: Fran Caffrey  www.golffile.ie

Tournament winner Matt Every. Picture: Fran Caffrey www.golffile.ie

As Adam Scott faltered and Matt Every nipped in to snatch the Arnold Palmer Invitational, Ireland's Graeme McDowell and Pádraig Harrington slipped away from Bay Hill with very different feelings about their weekends.

McDowell recovered brilliantly from his 77 on Friday with rounds of 67 and 70 to snatch his third Top 10 from four strokeplay starts this year — an impressive return from a man who is still not firing on all cylinders.

Pádraig Harrington lost the plot on the greens on Sunday.  Picture: Fran Caffrey  www.golffile.ie

Pádraig Harrington lost the plot on the greens on Sunday.  Picture: Fran Caffrey www.golffile.ie

As for Harrington, the Dubliner's ball-striking and scrambling was encouraging over the first two rounds but he lost the plot at the weekend, following a 73 on Saturday with a closing 80 to end up tied 67th on five over par.

It was the second time Harrington has shot 80 on the PGA Tour in the past 11 months. Last May he opened with an eight over 80 in the Wells Fargo Championship, when he put the belly putter in his bag for the first time. But he then shot a 10 over 80 in the final round of the Travelers at TPC River Highlands just a few weeks later. 

Harrington must now win the Texas Open in San Antonio this week or the Shell Houston Open in a fortnight if he is to qualify for the Masters. But on the evidence of his play so far this year, he may well  be watching the Augusta National action from home.

He went out in eight over par 44 with a double bogey following a hook out of bounds on the first followed by six bogeys as he hit just four of nine greens, three putted twice and took 18 putts.

He did manage to steady the ship with a level par back nine but a five foot for birdie at the 10th and another from the same distance for par at the 14th were the longest putts he holed all day as he racked up 34 putts.

Never a man to dwell on the negative, Harrington hurled himself at the positives of the week and suggested that windy San Antonio would suit him.

“There is a lot of positives I can take from the week with me to San Antonio," he told reporters. "Of course, there was nothing much I could take from the front nine today but outside of that there is a lot of positives.”

That McDowell could chisel out a share of 10th place despite shooting a 77 in the second round and then double bogeying the 17th hole can only bode well for the week he strings four rounds together.

By ditching the longer but less accurate Srixon driver for an old Cleveland model, he missed just one fairway in the last two rounds and finished first in the field for strokes gained putting — great statistics for a man who may well be a force for the US Open again this summer.

His lack of length is clearly a disadvantage but it be foolhardy to back against him getting his first Top-10 there when he returns from this week's EurAsia Cup in Malaysia.

Like Harrington, broomhandle wielding Scott knows that no matter how well he strikes the ball, he can't win without a consistent putting stroke.

As Every, nine off Scott's halfway lead, shot 70 to win his maiden title by one from Keegan Bradley on 13 under par, Scott crashed to a 76 to finish third on 11 under.

"It's reminder on how much putting practice I need to do before going to The Masters and just how important it is," Scott said. "If I think back to the last year, I made every putt that you expect to in that last round and ultimately that is I guess maybe what gave me the chance to win."

Recalling Sunday's collapse and the 2012 Open, he said: "I really think that the putting has let me down on both occasions."