Pádraig Harrington lost to his son at crazy golf for the first time on Sunday but when asked if he found negotiating the windmill or the clown’s mouth as frustrating as the real thing, he insisted that he’s not going to let his current battle for form get him down.
“Crazy golf is not frustrating,” said the Dubliner, who is 206th in the world having missed his seventh cut from his last 11 starts in Charlotte on Friday. "I am frustrated but it ain’t going to win the battle. I am going to win the battle. I love playing the game, so no, I am not going into TV commentary!
“I would feel quite good about my game but I played quite poorly the last couple of weeks. I am still working away and happy with what I am doing but I need to putt a bit better and I have changed a few things with that. I am waiting for the right things to fall in place and when they do fall in place it is happy days and everything is forgotten.
"You get into ebbs and flows and when you are on the downside, nothing falls into place. You see a guy on a bad run, he is in trouble and chips in for his par or his bogey. [These days] I’d be the one who would chip and two putt for the seven. Nothing is falling into place. I am not getting away with anything."
Harrington confessed on his blog this week that when it comes to the cut, he simply "can't get away for it." It's almost a law of magnetism at this stage.
"First 16 holes last week, I got away with everything," he said of his run to tied seventh on three under despite hitting just two fairways. "I was all over the place. I was on a wing and a prayer and then I finished badly.
"I was in seventh place and the spread is so tight in the US. One minute I am looking at the leaderboard and two holes later I am looking at the cut line. If things were going well for me, I wouldn’t be looking over my shoulder.
"Last week was the first tournament this year that I haven’t come down the 36th hole with the cut line on the line. I have had to birdie or par the last hole in every tournament this year bar the first one (Durban where there was no cut) and the last one (Quail Hollow, where he was well off the pace), to make the cut.
"The minute I went from three under to the cut line (on Thursday with a douubel bogey-boget finish), I thought I am going to have another 18 holes of this and it is going to come right down to the wire again. I can’t get away from the cut line to looking at the leaderbord. It runs like that.
"I can’t get away from having a nice relaxed run in a week. You can have a top 10 having 66 on the last day and you get a pat on the back. I am not even doing that. I am the guy sitting there looking over my shoulder all the time. This changes and when it changes I will get two years out of a good run and it will be happy days and all will be forgotten and we will wonder whatever happened."
It's not that Harrington is not trying. Far from it. And it's not that he isn't looking for solutions - he's changed his grip on his putter and his alignment method on the greens and even changed the set up his his wedges.
"There is always some experiment going on," he said. "I am at home doing something this week. And I am thinking it’s the answer. There are always new ideas, a new strategy and a new plan.
"I had my stats analysed on my last trip home and one of the interesting things — apart from the fact that obviously I haven't putted as well – is that traditionally I was leading or close to lead from 100-150 yards. At the moment I am quite poor in that range. I'd never noticed that.
"It is not that I am leaving any stone unturned to try and find the answer. I am enthusiastic that I will fns the answer. I might not be so enthusiastic after I finished double bogey-bogey on Thursday night. I would be enthusiastic when I get back on the horse."
To illustrate his point, Harrington explained that he "hit shots in the dark on Monday night, in twilight."
"The last two nights. Kids gone to bed. It's great, the long evenings...."
He hasn't seen Pete Cowen since the Shell Houston Open because their scehdules are now so different given his fall down the rankings.
"He's in Sawgrass this week and I wasn't at Doral or the Masters. But we are in contact. I'm sending videos of what we are working on and I have quite a bit of contact with Bob Rotella. Ultimately I need to putt a little bit better. Interestingly though, I was never better than 25th in my career in putting — I was 25th once and 26th once."
Why the putting myth?
"I was chipping well. As much as I was renowned for my putting as an amateur, I just chipped it close. I used to say that a lot but I was such a good chipper. You only find these things out when you start looking.
"There's a big difference between chipping it to eight feet and chipping it to five feet. At five fee you can be close to 100 percent (in converting the putt) but at eight feet it's 50 percent. The grooves made an incredible difference to my chipping and my play from the rough. I am distinctly worse from the rough as well.
"I did change something last week though — I took loft off my wedges. I want to the ball to come out lower to control distance. So I dropped the loft from 46-50-55-60 and now it's 58-52-46, just three wedges. I used to use spin to keep the ball down and the couple of degrees difference seems to work. It had a much more positive effect on long shots and I’m hoping it has a more positive effect on short ones too."
Given his dramatic slide in the world rankings from fifth in the world at the end of 2009 to 206th today, his not giving up all hope of a swift return to form or even, remote as it appears, a Ryder Cup appearance under Paul McGinley.
"There is one way into the Ryder Cup at this stage and that’s winning a major. So the goals I have in terms of my own golf take care of the Ryder Cup. I am not going to get into the Ryder Cup by finishing in the top 10 in a couple of events. It isn’t a points gathering exercises for me. The only solution at this stage is to win big, win so big I can’t be ignored either in the points system or the picks.
"Finishing eighth next week at the Byron Nelson is not going to affect me. While it is a nice performance itself it is not going to get me in the Ryder Cup team. Really I have to set the place alight between now and the Ryder Cup. It’s a tall ask. But I am not that far behind the position I was in in 2008 at this stage.
"I was well out of the team before I won the Open in 2008. I remember sitting at the golf writers' dinner at The Open and I was sitting with [the captain, Nick] Faldo and he made the comment, as much as I was a major champion, he wanted me to show some real form.
"So I need to do something similar."