Clarke heads for the bar as McDowell and Harrington count cost

Darren Clarke headed straight for the bar to get “hammered” as Padraig Harrington and Graeme McDowell were left licking their wounds in the US PGA at Whistling Straits.

Birthday boy Clarke “celebrated” his 47th birthday by following a 78 with a nightmare 81 to finish near the back of the 156-man field on 15 over par before play was suspended.

It wasn’t as bad for Harrington and his bad knee but with his putter on as much ice, he limped out with a 71 to finish on three over and out of the tournament.

Harrington still has at least one FedEx Cup event to play—The Barclays in a week's time before he heads to Europe to complete his season and finally have his knee seen by the surgeon. But McDowell’s US season is now all but over after a bogey-double bogey-bogey finish for a 76 left five over.

The Rathmore man might have been tempted to join fellow Ulsterman Clarke in the bar after another costly driving display and some less than incisive putting. 

He looked comfortable early on, picking up an early birdie from 10 feet at the first to get back to level par. But he simply couldn't convert his chances after that, missing three inside 15 feet on the next four greens.

Missed fairways, even if they were only by a year or two, prevented him making birdies on par fives and while he made a good par saver at the 17th from seven feet, he was being made to work too hard to score.

What were once almost automatic birdies are now becoming hard fought pars and it takes its toll on a player as he battles to move forward with a weight around his ankle.

Having started on the back nine, McDowell had to finish on the tough seventh, eighth and ninth and having dropped a shot at the fourth—one of the toughest holes on the course—he was sitting close to the cut mark.

A poor drive meant he had to lay up and didn't birdie the easy par-five fifth and the result was almost inevitable down the stretch.

Opting to lay up at the short, par-four sixth, he could only make par and a three-putt at the seventh put him right on the cut mark at two over.

A double bogey six at the eighth, where he missed the fairway and took four to get up and down from 47 yards after a fluffed third, was too much and another shot inevitably went at the ninth.

Projected to fall to 156th in the FedEx Cup, McDowell won't be in the playoffs now and while his status for 2015-16 should not be an issue, he may have some work to do to firm up his US schedule for next year.

His focus now is Europe, as he said in Akron last week.

"I'd be lying if I said that that was really my goal," he said of the FedEx Cup playoffs. "I'm looking at the bigger picture. I'm trying to get back on the leaderboards and trying to play the kind of golf that I know I'm capable of, and the rest will take care of itself. If I get myself into the playoffs, great, I'll play option A schedule that I have. And if I don't get into the playoffs, I've got an option B schedule, which means going back to Europe, which wouldn't be a bad gig either.

As for Clarke, Europe’s Ryder Cup skipper will next tee it up in Denmark and he may well have a hangover.

“It’s my birthday today so after that effort I might go out tonight and get hammered," he said with a grin after a trying week.

“I just played crap — really poorly — which is very frustrating as I felt I played beautifully because I hit it lovely on the practice range, and holed some good putts on the practice green.

“But just couldn’t quite get it done in the tournament proper and with a card in my hand. So that is particularly frustrating.

“This course is very much a golf course that will highlight any short-comings in your game, and if you miss it anywhere around here you are going to pay a penalty.”

His opposite number in the Ryder Cup stakes, US skipper Davis Love III, outscored him by seven shots over two rounds, he also confessed he was driven to drink

Love joked: “Darren never mentioned it was his birthday but then I may go with him tonight and also get hammered

“I always enjoy playing alongside Darren but we obviously didn’t have that much fun out there. We both struggled.”

It wasn’t much fun for Harrington or McDowell either as they missed the cut. 

McDowell will now fail to make the FedEx Cup playoffs and must turn his attention to Europe and the Fall Series events in the US to make sure he retains his US playing rights.

The Rathmore man went out in one under to be level fo the tournament but he collapsed on the way home.

After a bogey at the fourth, he missed a six footer for par at the seventh and then double bogeyed the eighth and bogeyed the ninth off poor drives.

Harrington eventually had a bad day on the greens after getting just 90 minutes sleep because he was up all night icing his knee.

After batting back to three over for the tournament thanks to four birdies and two bogeys in his first seven holes, he bogeyed his eighth and ninth and missed every birdie chance he created coming home.

Refusing to blame his right knee, which will need keyhole surgery in December or sooner if it doesn’t improve, he said: “I struggled to sleep. But it didn’t affect my golf at all.  Not a bit.

“I iced it when I was asleep so that took away the pain.”

It was his putting more than his knee that really pained him as he headed off to Orlando for a family holiday before the first FedEx Cup playoff event in New York.

He said: “I  holed a fews good putts early on but in the last 11 holes I think I missed nine chances, some of them pretty close. Nine out of 11 is a lot.”