Pádraig Harrington insists he needs a miracle — or a 62 — to have any chance of catching Phil Mickelson and lifting his third Open title.
“A 62? That would give you a story alright,” he said after bookending a 72 with bogeys to finish his day 10 shots behind the 46-year old left hander on level par.
It was a trademark battling round for the 44-year old Dubliner, whose is more focused now on the US PGA and the Olympic Games than chasing down the leader.
“The problem is the 10 shots,” Harrington said. “I am not six hours earlier in the tee time that Phil. If i was first out you might get the weather beautiful and go out there and shoot 64, 63 and then they could get this weather.
“Unfortunately I am not that far behind in terms of time. If i play well I might catch up two or three shots but it is hard to see me catching up six, seven or eight shots.”
The big picture for Harrington now means looking ahead to the final major and the first Olympic golf tournament for 112 years. “I came in with a plan for summer,” he said. “I came in with three big tournaments for me, I just want to approach them the right way.
“If i do that i will get a chance hopefully of winning one of the three, okay it hasn’t gone my way so far this week but I have approached it right.
“I had some issues yesterday I worked out with Bob Rotella, while it wasn’t perfect out there, there was some improvement in that side so two more rounds would definitely be good.
“It’s more a case of working on my mental game so that it is good for the PGA in two weeks’ time and the Olympics in four weeks’ time.
“Parts of my game that have been weak have come back strong — I’m holing putts again which is good and I have been driving it a lot better. They’ve been weak over the last couple of years and they’ve come back strong.” The tough conditions caused mayhem but, like Darren Clarke who birdied the last from two inches for a 72 to make it on two over, Harrington’s links experience kicked in.
“I am pretty good in tough conditions,” he said. “I have a very good attitude after I have hit a golf shot. I would pride myself there is nobody better than me, find it and try and get it up and down.”
Clarke had four three-putts in his one over 72, almost holing his approach to the 18th to give himself a tap in birdie to finish and two more rounds.
With the Ryder Cup looming, he’s more concerned about his prospective team than doing well on a links course.
“I wanted to play well this weekend, but it will be interesting to see how some of the Ryder Cup contenders get on,” Clarke said looking at a leaderboad with Henrik Stenson, Soren Kjeldsen, Andrew Johnston, Sergio Garcia, Martin Maymer and Rafa Cabrera Bello in the mix.
“My Ryder Cup duties are more important than my own golf right now. That doesn’t mean I’m not trying. I want to play well, but that other stuff is more important.
“Obviously Henrik is up there. It’s great to see him getting up there. He’s won again recently. He’s showing some great form and it’s brilliant.”
He had thoughts for many Europeans, including Graeme McDowell, who made the cut on the mark after a 71, and Shane Lowry, who added a fighting 71 to his 78 to miss out by three.
“Shane had a tough day yesterday,” he said. “But he’s played well again. So there’s lots of guys.
“There’s still a long way to go for qualifying. I don’t want to single out G-Mac. There are a lot of other guys, potential guys, that can still make the team and still be under consideration for picks and what have you.”
Playing in a short sleeves, Lowry looked like a man on a mission when he birdied the first and second to raise hopes that he could shoot a sensational round and make the cut.
In the end the weather killed his charge but his 71 was one of the best of the afternoon wave and the Clara man was upbeat about the end of his week.
“I played great,” he said with a big grin. “I was like Hulk Hogan yesterday and Ben Hogan today.” He was within a shot of the cut mark with six to go but the weather turned nasty as he finished and he bogeyed the 13th and the par-five 16th to miss out by three shots in the end.
He added: “I gave it a go. I birdied the first two and I got off to a good start and hit some really good shots early on.
“I feel just for the lads that are making the cut on our side that are five shots behind.
“I just got in my own way around the course *yesterday. I was expecting quite a lot coming in here. I was hitting poor shots and mentally I was just not there.
“With the conditions like they were today, I just had to go out and play golf. I said to Neil before, I’m just going to go play like I’m with the lads at home.
“Hopefully there will be some nice weather over in New Jersey in a couple of weeks.” As for last year’s hero Paul Dunne, he added a 78 to his 77 to miss out on 13 over and now faces a trip to the King’s Cup in Thailand in a fortnight or six weeks off before he plays again on the Czech Masters.
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