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China Open: Harrington in deeper slump

By William Callahan

Where or when will this Padraig Harrington slump bottom out?

On a day when Welsh journeyman professional Jamie Donaldson ripped Luxehills Country Club apart with a second round 61, Harrington was sent packing after a shambling 73.

Ireland’s three-times Major Champion missed the lowest cut on the European Tour since 2003 by five strokes.

After playing 36 holes at this veritable birdie fest in level par, Harrington is expected to drop out of the world’s top-40 for the first time since April 2000 when the new rankings are unveiled on Monday.

Unless he experiences a marked improvement in form over the coming weeks, the Dubliner’s place in the game’s elite top-50 will come under serious risk.

It’s all a far cry from August 2008, when Harrington soared to a career-high third place in the world on the back of his third Major title in 13 months.

This is Harrington’s 20th missed cut in world-ranking events since completing sensational back-to-back victories at the Open in Royal Birkdale and the US PGA at Oakland Hills the following month.

In that time, he’s also racked up 20 top-10 finishes, including a solitary win in last October’s Iskandar Johor Open in Malaysia, but the Irishman has surrendered his trademark consistency.

Though he took 29 putts on both days in Chengdu, doubts still hover over his ability to get himself out of trouble with his once-formidable putter.

Harrington still had a glimmer of hope of making the weekend when he hit a lovely wedge shot out of the left rough to five feet at 14 and planted the birdie putt to go two-under for his round and three-under for the tournament.

Any chance of survival was snuffed out at the next when he carved his tee shot way right of the fairway and out of bounds, leading to a double-bogey six.

Apart from the woes of Harrington it was quite a good day for the Irish in Chengdu.

Peter Lawrie went into the weekend just one shot behind Donaldson on 12-under after posting eight birdies in a superlative second round 64.

Among those tied second with Lawrie was Gareth Maybin, even if his 67 was two strokes shy of Thursday’s opening 65. Damian McGrane posted a 68 in a bogey-free round and he shares 47th place with Michael Hoey.

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