Spieth and Harrington struggle at The Barclays

Jordan Spieth birdies his seventh hole at The Barclays.

World No 1 Jordan Spieth crashed to a 74 as Dubliner Pádraig Harrington struggled to a three over par 73 in the first event of the FedEx Cup playoffs — The Barclays at Plainfield Country Club in New Jersey.

Ranked 87th in the standings as the top 125 points winners lined up in New Jersey, Harrington was projected to fall outside the top 100 who qualify for the second playoff event, the Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston, next week.

It perhaps more surprising to see Spieth struggle—especially after he turned in two under par—lurching home in six over 40 for a 74 that leaves him in danger of handling his world No 1 ranking back to the absentee Rory McIlroy if finishes worse than solo 14th.

As he finished, Spieth was tied 88th though those hoping to see McIlroy return to No 1 may be aware that Spieth is ranked first for second round scoring on the PGA Tour this season.

After a solid outward half featuring birdies at the 10th and 16th, Masters and Open champion SPieth had a horrific back nine with bogeys at the first, second (three-putt), fifth (greenside bunker) and seventh (left tee shot in fairway bunker) and ninth (theee-putt) and a double bogey at the third (water), offset only by a solitary birdie from four feet at the fourth.

While he parred the first two holes, Harrington missed 8 foter for birdie at the first and, according to Shotlink, hit a four-foot birdie try some seven feet at the second.

A double bogey five at the par-three third, where he was in the water hazard off the tee, was offset by a birdie from five feet at the fourth.

But he made just one more birdie after that and dropped three more shots as he hit just 28 percent of the fairways.

His par at the fifth summed up his day — a wild drive, a recovery to 149 yard followed by a a 21 foot par putt.

But there were too many mistakes and he missed from seven feet for par after a pushed drive at the eighth and followed a tap in birdie after a 123-yard approach to the 10th with bogeys at the par-three 11th and 14th.

Spieth could lose his world No 1 ranking to an absentee Rory McIlroy if he No.1 watch he finishes worse than solo 14th.

As Spieth and Harrington struggled, Bubba Watson set the pace with a five under 65 featuring a bogey at the last, one better than Danny Lee with Camilo Villegas six under late in his round.