Pádraig Harrington bowed out of the 147th Open at Carnoustie, the course he mastered 11 years ago, with the admission that the famous links had got the better of him.
The 46-year-old, who won the first of three majors and back-to-back Opens here in 2007, had made positive starts to his first and second rounds this week only to unravel over the back nine on both days.
Yesterday he added a three-over-par 74 to his opening round of 76 to fall well behind the expected cutline.
Yet he made encouraging starts to both days’ work, reaching the turn for home in level par on both occasions. Thursday finished with bogey at 16 and double bogey at the last to knock the wind out of Harrington’s sails. He said he lost focus around the turn.
The conclusion to the second round saw him double bogey the 15th and bogey 17 for the same feeling of deflation.
“Thursday afternoon’s finish really scuppered me,” said Harrington
said of his first round.
“Knowing that we were on the wrong side of the draw, those three shots I dropped in the last three holes really put me behind the eight ball for sure.
“I stuck in there today (Friday), but you’ve got to make some birdies and what was I, level par through 14 holes? To make two more coming home was always going to be tough. I think those three shots just didn’t give me any room.”
Harrington knew what his problem was, he just could not find an answer as to why it had happened.
“I’m not 100% sure, but I think I definitely seemed to run out of steam both days.
“Maybe I just made it a bit difficult for myself for the first 14 holes, even if I was scoring OK.
“It was far from stress-free, let’s put it like that. Yes, it was a bad finish both days, you just have to stick in there and hope that it doesn’t happen again. I just had a bad day, both days.
Harrington, who shot an opening 66 at Ballyliffin two weeks ago only to miss the Irish Open cut, will now return to the US to resume his PGA Tour campaign knowing he needs a big finish in the Barracuda Championship in Reno, Nevada, the PGA Championship at Bellerive, St Louis, or the Wyndham Championship in North Carolina if he is to make the top 125 for the FedEx Cup play-off series from his current position of 221st.
The European Ryder Cup vice-captain will at least leave Carnoustie with the memory of an unusual yet satisfying birdie at the par-five sixth hole, playing his second shot on the side of a wire fence.
“Hit a beautiful drive out over the out of bounds, it came well back in, so much so somebody in my group said ‘nice shot’ and then it kicked left up against the fence.
“It kind of straightened in the air and then kicked left so it was a bit of a shock to finish where we did. But I did hit a nice shot from there and hit a lovely 9-iron as well so it was kind of a bonus, really, at the end of the day.
“It was unlikely to ever be out of bounds but where I finished was obviously very awkward. So I was happy with that birdie.”