Harrington glimpses the secret

Pádraig Harrington felt he’d found the secret of golf only to lose it immediately and fade to a 73 to kiss his Open hopes goodbye.

The Dubliner, 44, was one under for the tournament after six holes of his third round and feeling better than ever as he set about chasing down the leaders.

But once he started thinking he’d found the secret with his mental coach Dr Bob Rotella, he lost the magic and slipped out of the picture.

Smiling, he said: “Obviously, in a perfect world the worst thing you can do is try to hang onto something. 

“But it's nice that I did have it for a while. I was very happy about that. 

“I spent more time trying to figure it out with Bob. At least I realised I had it and I realised I was trying too hard to have it.”

After a birdie at the sixth got him back to level for the tournament, Harrington drove into a bunker and bogeyed the seventh, then dropped further shots with three putts from off the green at the ninth and 10th.

Another shot went when he missed an eight footer for par at the 13th though he was pleased to hole a 22 footer for a birdie at the 18th.

Joking about the mental game, he said: “I would have said I had it there for a long time today, and then when I realised I had it, it got harder. 

“I was really good when I was working with Bob. And I said, God, this is it. Once I realised it was it, it only got harder after that.

“My first nine holes that's as good as I've seen in an awful long time. But then the realisation that it was that good, it wasn't so good afterwards.”

In the end it was putting that let Harrington down as much as the mental game.

He said: “I just putted average, unfortunately. You're going to have to hole a few putts if you're going to make some birdies

“I just hit average putts. I didn't hit brilliant putts. I didn't hit perfect putts. I hit average putts. They were going in yesterday. They weren't going in today.

“I made bogey on 9, 10, 13, without hitting a bad shot on any of them.

“Three-putt 9 and 10 from way off the green, and missed about an 8-footer up the hill on 13. Another day those sort of things would have all gone in.”