NORTON, Mass. — On the surface, it appeared an easy assignment: Birdie the softish par-5 18th and make the cut. He did, too, but it wasn’t without some anxious moments, because as he stood in the fairway, Padraig Harrington thought his 5-wood second shot from 235 yards was “stiffed.”
For a moment or two, it was, too, perhaps just 15 feet away, but then it drifted back down the slope and off the front the green.
“I wasn’t feeling too good about it,” Harrington conceded.
Still, the Irishman pitched to about 4 feet, slipped home his third birdie of the day to shoot 74, and squeezed in under the cut. He was one of a dozen players to make it on the number at 2-over 144.
“I’ve just been flat this week,” Harrington said. “There were a long four days into (the tournament) and my preparation has not been quite right. I’ve been pushing hard the last six, eight weeks.”
Actually, what even enabled the dramatics at 18 was Harrington’s 12-foot putt that saved par after a bunker shot lipped out at the 17th. And now that he’s gotten into the final two days at DBC, the goal is to push forward, “not go backward.” Having come into the week 48th in the FedEx Cup standings, Harrington is in good shape to advance to next week’s BMW Championship in Carmel, Ind. But the truth is, he needs strong performances from here on to earn his way into the Tour Championship, though this is where the glory of the FedEx Cup system shines.
“I’m only a win away from being in the top five. (Then) it doesn’t matter who you are, once you’re in the game (if you’re top five into the Tour Championship and win, you win the FedEx Cup), you still have a chance.”
The thought appealed to Harrington.
“No system is perfect,” he said, “(but) they’re pretty close to having this the right way.”
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ROOKIE PERSPECTIVE: For a guy temporarily on the edge of missing the 36-hole cut, PGA Tour rookie Brian Harman (2-over 144) stepped out of the scoring trailer and didn’t look too overly concerned. “I need a little help,” he said. And soon he was far more interested to see how many yards Georgia Bulldogs freshman running back Todd Gurley was piling up against Buffalo.
Two mediocre rounds outside Boston weren’t about to offset the bigger picture for a guy who is enjoying his time on the big stage.
“It’s been the time of my life so far,” the 25-year-old left-hander said. “It’s been fun. It’s obviously a lot better than where I came from; it’s a lot better than mini-tour golf. I’m sure guys are going to have their gripes about different stuff, but you won’t hear me griping at all.”
That’s refreshing to hear. Harman began the playoffs ranked 97th in FedEx points, and picked a good time for his best showing of the year. A closing birdie at the Barclays last Sunday vaulted him into fifth place in the tournament, and all the way to 41st in the points standings, basically protecting him into next week’s BMW Championship.
“Yeah, I’m a huge fan of the playoffs,” he said with a smile. “I think it’s great. It’s cool. It gives us something after the last major to gear for, and it’s good on TV, so I think it’s positive all the way around.”
His paycheck at Barclays also put him over $1 million in 2012 season earnings. For a guy who was playing the minor leagues (NGA Tour) in 2011, that’s good news for the bank account.
“I don’t know what to do with it, to be honest with you,” he said. “I guess I’ll buy a new truck.”
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A TPC BOSTON HORSE: Horses for courses? At TPC Boston, that means only one name . . . John Senden.
Don’t laugh. Senden backed up his opening 66 with a 69 to get halfway home in 7-under 135, just five off the lead.
Clearly, the Aussie has a fondness for this course, because he has made the cut in all 10 editions of the Deutsche Bank Championship. In his 38 rounds, Senden is a crisp 44-under par.
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CLOSING NIGHTMARE: Greg Owen was on the cut line, 2 over, and playing the easiest hole – the 18th. How he played it will haunt him, however, because after driving it into the fairway he pulled his shot well left of the green.
He then flew his third shot over the green, into junk and the problem snowballed until when it was over, Owen had required eight strokes. Yes, the dreaded “snowman,” a round of 78 and at 5 over, he was outside the cut.
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SHORT SHOTS: Seven players missed the cut here and at last week’s Barclays: Rory Sabbatini, Ben Curtis, Ben Crane, Ken Duke, Charlie Wi, Brian Davis, and Cameron Tringale. . . . South African Louis Oosthuizen recorded four 2s on his card Saturday, one of which was a chip-in for eagle on the short par-4 fourth hole. Oosthuizen will play with leader Rory McIlroy in the final group Sunday after shooting a second round 65. . . . Last week’s Barclays winner Nick Watney continued his run in the playoffs with a 2-under 69. He is tied for 38th. . . . After a T-5 at Barclays, Canadian Graham DeLaet missed the cut, shooting 75 to go with an opening 72. . . . Six players missed the cut on Saturday and were eliminated from the playoffs: Greg Owen, Ricky Barnes, Cameron Tringale, Michael Thompson, Rory Sabbatini and K.J. Choi. . . . Vijay Singh (2004) and Olin Browne (2005) are the only two players to convert 36-hole leads into victory at TPC Boston. . . . Chris Kirk (70) holed an 8-iron from 160 yards for eagle at the par-4 ninth hole. Kirk has shot par or better in 21 of his last 22 rounds dating to the John Deere. . . . Six players made eagle at the par-5 18th on Saturday. . . . Steve Stricker (69) extended his lead for most career playoff rounds in the 60s. He has 49. He now has 64 playoff rounds of par or better.
– Jeff Babineau, Jim McCabe, Alex Miceli