Harrington all but concedes Masters defeat; tips Bubba, Rory, Jordan; Shane an outsider

Harrington all but concedes Masters defeat; tips Bubba, Rory, Jordan; Shane an outsider
 Padraig Harrington at Innisbrook earlier this week

Padraig Harrington at Innisbrook earlier this week

Padraig Harrington needs to win a PGA Tour event to earn his ticket to the Masters but of he fails to make it, he's tipping Bubba Watson to claim his third green jacket in five years. 

Unless he wins the Valspar Championship today — he condeded he can't after a third round 71 left him 11 strokes behind leader Bill Haas at Innisbrook Resort — Harrington needs to win the Shell Houston Open or he will watching it on his sofa

The 44-year old, 130th in the world and off to India next week for the Hero Indian Open in New Delhi, cannot earn enough world ranking points at Delhi Golf Club to qualify for the WGC-Dell Matchplay.

That leaves the Shell Houston Open from March 30 to April 3 as the last chance saloon for the Irish player with the most Masters appearances — 15.

"It's not the Big Three it's probably the Big Six right now," Harrington said of the Masters favourites as he sat in the Sky Sports commentary booth for a two hour sting with Mark Roe.

Asked who he fancied for the green jacket, he ran through the top contenders in his own mind.

"Bubba, to be honest," he said. "Rory. You can't really look past Jordan Spieth. Will Adam putt well enough on the greens? He's won around Augusta. He's obviously in tremendous form. Rickie Fowler to me is a great player going forward. Btu he has to win a major."

As he surveyed the odds of the long shots and tried to pick out a value bet for the armchair punters,, Harrington added: "You'd have to go with a long hitter. Brooks Koepka. Obviously Charl Schwartzel has won there before. He's the best striker of an iron in the game, which you need....

"Throw a few quid on Shane Lowry at 125-1 . It's hard to win a major so early on in your career, but he likes the golf course and is leading most of the putting stats over here this year."

Harrington might be mistaken on Lowry's putting statistics but he believes the Co Offaly man is more than good value each way at that huge price.

As for the Valspar Championship — scores — Harrington is tied for 47th on three over and 11 behind Haas, whose 67 leaves him one stroke clear of Canada's Graham DeLaet (68) on eight under par.

World No 1 Jordan Spieth shot a bogey free 68 to be six behind and declared he's aiming for a seven under 64 to finish and a nine under target.

Charley Hoffman (67) and Ryan Moore (69) are three behind Haas on five under with Charles Howell III (70) and Steve Stricker (72) a further shot behind.