PGA Notebook

Padraig Harrington Is Undone by a Meltdown on the Eighth Hole

The 91st PGA Championship, played at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minn.
By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, August 17, 2009

CHASKA, Minn., Aug. 16 -- The man who would have won a poll asking who could beat Tiger Woods in Sunday's final round of the PGA Championship was almost certainly not Y.E. Yang, the eventual champion. It was probably Padraig Harrington, the three-time major champion who, like Yang, entered the final round trailing Woods by two shots.

Harrington, too, was right there for most of the front nine, opening with seven straight pars to stay at 6 under par at a point when Woods had fallen back to 7 under.

Then came the eighth.

"I only got out of position on one hole," Harrington said.

He got way out of position. Harrington said he had one thought on the 180-yard par 3. "I was just trying to make sure to get up with it," he said.

He did not, and the ball splashed in the water in front of the green.

"I really probably didn't settle in enough, but in my mind [I] probably was," he said, "and I did the classic amateur thing. It just didn't carry up. To be honest, I needed to get up to the middle of the green."

Still, that disaster alone wouldn't have yanked Harrington from contention. But what happened afterward did. After dropping, Harrington hit a poor wedge left of the green. He then hit his next shot back over the green -- and into the water, again. Another drop, a poor pitch, and two more to get down left him with an 8 that took him from 6 under to 1 under. He finished with a 78 Sunday and at even par for the tournament, tied for 10th.

"Obviously, it was disappointing for me," he said.

A Bright Spot

Phil Mickelson's day began better than his week had gone, when he holed a 205-yard 5-iron for an eagle on the first hole.

"I couldn't believe that thing went in," he said. "That was fun to see."

It was, however, one of the few bright spots in Mickelson's week. The 2005 PGA champion struggled mightily with his putter, and his 76 Sunday left him at 12-over 300 for the week, a disappointing 73rd-place finish -- his worst in a major on which he played the weekend since the 1996 U.S. Open -- that leaves the rest of his season in question.

Mickelson, whose priority remains helping his wife, Amy, battle breast cancer, said he will almost certainly play at the Barclays in two weeks, a tournament that could begin a run of four straight appearances on the PGA Tour. But he's uncertain about the state of his game.

"I haven't putted the best for a little while now," Mickelson said. "It's going to take a little more than overnight. But I at least feel like I have a little bit better direction."

Presidents Cup Berths

The 10 automatic berths for the American team for Presidents Cup, to be held in October in San Francisco, were firmed up after the PGA Championship. Justin Leonard held on to his spot in 10th, edging out U.S. Open champion Lucas Glover.

The other automatic berths go to Woods, Mickelson, Steve Stricker, Kenny Perry, Zach Johnson, Stewart Cink, Sean O'Hair, Jim Furyk and Anthony Kim. Captain Fred Couples has two captain's choices. . . .

Think Woods's involvement makes a difference for broadcasters and advertisers? Overnight ratings for CBS's third-round coverage earned a 4.9 rating and a 13 share, up 390 percent from last year's 1.0 rating and 2 share. The 2008 tournament, won by Harrington, was not only up against the Beijing Olympics, but Woods was out following knee surgery. The third-round ratings in 2007, which Woods won, were close to this year's: 4.6 rating and a 12 share. . . .

Greg Bisconti, a 36-year-old assistant pro at the St. Andrew's Golf Club in Hastings-on-Hudson, N.Y., finished as the low PGA professional in the tournament, managing a 76 Sunday to finish 13 over in his third PGA Championship.

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