Pádraig Harrington kissed the Masters goodbye when he found water five times and missed the cut after a disappointing 78 in the Shell Houston Open.
As a desperate-sounding Jordan Spieth shot 73 and insisted that he simply “has to get better” on the greens before his Masters defence next week, Harrington had one of his worst days of the year to miss the cut comfortably on seven over par.
The 44-year old Dubliner needed a win at the Golf Club of Houston qualify to tee it up at Augusta National for the 16th time but will instead watch on TV at home for the second time in three years.
With Harrington on his settee, there will be just four Irishmen in the field for the first major of the year with Shane Lowry set to arrive in Georgia ahead of Graeme McDowell, Darren Clarke and Rory McIlroy after a one over 73 also saw him miss the cut in Texas.
While Harrington struggled badly from tee to green, carding two birdies, three bogeys, a double bogey seven and a triple bogey eight in his six over 78, Lowry mixed three birdies with four bogeys for a forgettable 73.
The Offaly star, who turns 29 today, was hoping to go to Georgia with a decent finish under his belt. But instead he had an average week on the greens, adding a 73 to his opening 72 to finish well outside the projected two under par cut mark on one over par.
An opening bogey at the 10th, where he pushed his tee shot into trouble and had to take a penalty drop, did little to help his cause.
And while he birdied the 13th from 36 feet and got up and down from 84 yards for another birdie at the 15th, he played the remaining 12 holes in two over par.
After bogeys at the 16th and sixth left him one over for the tournament and needing a hat-trick of birdies to finish, he made a two from eight feet at the par-three seventh but failed to birdie the par-five eighth and then three-putted the ninth from 63 feet for a bogey four.
Harrington had an even more disappointing day that wasn’t made easier by 90-minute rain delay early in proceedings.
After opening with a 73, the Dubliner needed to break 70 to make the cut but found water twice as he ran up a triple bogey eight at the 566 yard fourth, then found more water to bogey the sixth.
His troubles mounted at the par-five when he put another two shots in the lake there en route to a double bogey seven.
Out in 42, he came home in level par 36 but not without finding water twice more.
If Harrington was frustrated, so too was world No 1 Spieth, who added a 73 to his opening 67 to trail clubhouse leader Charley Hoffman by six shots on four under par.
While he had just 27 putts, he lost strokes to the field on the greens, aggressively three-putting the third from 20 feet for the second of four bogeys.
"I've got to putt better," Spieth said. I'm losing a couple strokes back to the field on putting and normally we're gaining strokes. Inside 10 feet I got to be solid and confident. I can't get into a rhythm. I'm stepping off putts.
"That's a tough feeling, you know, kind of bleeds into the rest of your game, too, because you feel like you got to be more aggressive. So, it really comes down to the putter for me. I have to get better before next week. I got to get more comfortable, find a set-up position that I feel like is going to produce the correct start lines."
Asked about his form for the Masters, Spieth added: "It's tough to say. It's so early. We still have what, five days or so, so I've got a couple more competitive rounds and then a few more practice days."
Hoffman was “very happy” to add a 70 to his opening 64 to lead by one stroke on 10 under par in the clubhouse from Jamie Lovemark (68).
Chez Reavie was at eight under after a 70, tied with Dustin Johnson who was one under for the day and facing a nine footer for birdie on the 18th when play was suspended due to darkness.
Rickie Fowler was on five under after rounds of 69 and 70 with Henrik Stenson was tied with Spieth on four under after a 71.