Noh wins but Harrington's struggles continue

Eighteen years after bursting in the world's Top 200 with victory in the Peugeot Open de España at Club de Campo in Madrid, Pádraig Harrington is in danger of falling out of that elite group.

Ranked 182nd in the world before finishing tied 67th in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans last night, the 42-year old Dubliner heads for Quail Hollow this week as the world No 196, desperately searching of his first win since 2010 or his first PGA Tour Top-10 for 13 months.

Having made the cut on the mark in New Orleans on Friday and then survive the 54-hole cut by making a 49 footer for birdie on his final hole on Saturday night, Harrington closed with a two over 74 in tricky conditions at TPC Avondale to end up 18 strokes behind maiden winner Seung-yul Noh.

The 22-year old South Korean shot a one-under 71 to win by two shots from Keegan Bradley for his first PGA Tour victory, signalling the arrival of yet another young star.

For 42-year old Harrington there are many reasons to be optimistic but once again his putting remains his bugbear and the statistic that 11 of 25 PGA events in the 2014 season have been won by players in their 20s is not encouraging. Doubly so when you consisder that neither Rory McIlroy nor Jordan Spieth has won this year.

Ranked 187th for putting (strokes gained) out of 207 PGA Tour players and outside the Top 100 in virtually every other statistical category bar par-three birdies and the number of times he finds the green in regulation from a fairway bunker, it's not looking good for Harrington.

There is plenty of good in his game but having fallen from 39th in 2012 to 134th for scrambling this year, he has to play almost perfect golf to have any chance of contending.

On the greens, he's 186th for putting betweem three and five feet, missing more than two out of every 10 attempts on average.

He had just 11 putts on the front nine yesterday (and 25 in all) but while he holed a four footer, a five footer and an 11 footer for birdies, he still had three bogeys and a double bogey on his card as he walked to the seventh tee.

The back nine brought one bogey and one birdie but when it comes to he blade, he is losing an average of half a stroke per round to the field.

That's better than Henrik Stenson, who had a chance to become world No 1 this week. But the Swede, far from his 2013 best, still outstrips Harrington in many other areas, most notably his demolition of the par-fives where he averages 4.52 to Harrington's 4.85.

As for Noh, though he briefly fell into a tie with Bradley, he never lost the lead. The American shot himself in the foot when he bogeyed the fifth and triple bogeyed the sixth and Noh, who wore yellow and black ribbons on his hat in honour of the dead or missing in the recent Korean ferry accident, did not falter.

He became the seventh first-time winner at the event in the last 10 years in the event, finishing on 19 under to earn $1,224,000.