- The Washington Times - Monday, August 17, 2009

CHASKA, Minn. | Padraig Harrington started the final round at the PGA Championship determined to atone for last week’s meltdown against Tiger Woods in the final round at Firestone.

Instead, the Irishman had an even worse collapse Sunday at Hazeltine.

Harrington put two shots into the water and had his playing partner ducking out of the way of a third en route to a quintuple bogey on the par-3 eighth hole that transformed him from Woods’ biggest threat to a punch line in a matter of minutes.

The disaster dropped Harrington from 6 under to 1 under, and he limped to a 78. He finished even par for the tournament, eight strokes behind Y.E. Yang, who became the first player to rally on the final day of a major to defeat Woods.

Harrington had stayed with Woods all week and was just one stroke behind him when he went to the tee on the 167-yard eighth. But he couldn’t get his tee shot over the water and after taking a drop nearly hit Henrik Stenson, who was standing just above the bunker to the left of the green.

“It was a difficult tee shot, and it was obviously a difficult second shot after you hit it in the water and pulled it left,” Harrington 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, you know, I hit a bad shot. So these things happen.”

It only got uglier.

He put far too much oomph on his fourth shot from the bunker, and it sailed over the green and into the water.

After his second drop of the hole, a skittish Harrington was far too soft with his chip from the rough, and the ball only traveled a few feet. Mercifully, Harrington dropped a 5-foot putt for his eight.

He walked off the green to sympathy applause from the crowd and with a smile on his face, trying to make the best of an embarrassing collapse.

“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 anymore than that.”

The performance came just a week after a similar blunder at Firestone. Battling Woods for the title, Harrington had a triple bogey on the 16th hole, including a chip over the green into the water, to wilt out of contention.

Woods defended his friend after the Bridgestone, criticizing tour officials for putting the pair on the clock earlier in the round. Harrington said he felt rushed after the warning, but he had all the time in the world Sunday.

Eagle is lone highlight

Phil Mickelson’s second shot Sunday carried about 199 yards, bounced six feet in front of the hole and found the cup for an eagle.

“I couldn’t believe that thing went in,” Mickelson said. “Those are fun to see.”

It also proved to be a mirage.

Mickelson shot 6 over on the remaining 17 holes to cap a miserable week. He finished at 12-over 300, tying for 73rd. It’s the first time he has shot 300 at a major in 11 years, dating to the 1998 British Open at Royal Birkdale.

“The last two weeks have been frustrating with my play,” Mickelson said. “I’ll have a week off here fortunately before we start the FedEx Cup, and I’ll see if I can get my game turned around for Barclays.”

PGA bound

By finishing in the top 15, John Merrick and Francesco Molinari both qualified for the PGA Championship next year at Whistling Straits.

Merrick and Molinari were among six players who tied for 10th at even-par 288.

Merrick tied for the low round of the day with a 70 to ensure his return next year.

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