Commentary

Snowman sinks Harrington's hopes

Originally Published: August 16, 2009
By Bob Harig | ESPN.com

CHASKA, Minn. -- As he walked off the 18th green having missed a relatively meaningless birdie putt, Padraig Harrington continued to play the part of happy-go-lucky Irishman.

He heard the crowd chanting his name, and a big smile came across his face. Paddy reached into his pocket, pulled out his golf ball, gave it a big heave toward the cheering masses ... then watched it come up woefully short.

Harrington sheepishly slinked away, somewhat embarrassed.

[+] EnlargePadraig Harrington
Stuart Franklin/Getty ImagesPadraig Harrington was 1 shot out of the lead until his quintuple-bogey 8 at the par-3 eighth hole Sunday at Hazeltine.

But it wasn't any worse than he felt a few hours earlier, when he hit two balls in the water at the par-3 eighth hole and nearly struck his playing partner, Henrik Stenson, with another to produce a stunning quintuple-bogey 8 that knocked him out of the running for the 91st PGA Championship.

"It's hard when you are messing up like that,'' Harrington said. "I holed a lovely 5-footer down the hill there and made a great-up-and-down from a bad lie. I finished the hole off strong and can't ask for any more than that.''

Always the optimist, Harrington found something good from an 8.

At the time, he was 6 under par and just 1 stroke behind Tiger Woods, who was leading at 7 under. Harrington's tee shot, with a 6-iron, came up short and in the water.

That's when things really got interesting. Harrington went to the drop area to hit what amounted to about a 100-yard shot. But he pulled it so badly that it nearly struck Stenson, who thought he was positioned safely to the left of the green.

Now laying 3, Harrington blasted his shot from tall rough across the green and into the water. He dropped, and left his next shot -- his sixth -- short. From there, he got up and down for the 8 that took him out of contention.

"It was a difficult tee shot and obviously it was a difficult second shot after you hit it in the water and pulled it left,'' he said. "I had been changing my chipping action a little, and I probably was more into what I was doing rather than trying to get the ball up and down. And I hit a bad shot. These things happen.''

It happened to Harrington for the second straight week. On Aug. 9 at the Bridgestone Invitational, Harrington led Woods by 1 stroke at the 16th hole during the final round. But after being put on the clock by a rules official, Harrington rushed his routine and ended up hitting his fourth shot across the green and into the water, leading to triple-bogey 8.

At least that was only a triple. This was a quintuple-bogey 8. And it led to a 78.

But after struggling all year, Harrington now has consecutive top-10 finishes and has contended in consecutive tournaments. This time, however, he finished 8 strokes back of winner Y.E. Yang, in a tie for 10th, at even-par 288.

"Obviously it was a disappointment for me,'' Harrington said. "I felt I hit the shots all day. Another day, if a few putts had dropped, that would have been a nice number. I think I'm happy to see 8 under has won, because that was my mindset going out there. I feel like I could have been 5, 6 shots better.''

Bob Harig covers golf for ESPN.com. He can be reached at BobHarig@gmail.com.

Bob Harig | email

Golf Writer, ESPN.com