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USPGA: Crocked Rory McIlroy keeps his sense of humour

By James Corrigan

Rory McIlroy pain threshold was tested over 70 injury-wracked holes at The US PGA Championship and his patience was stretched beyond breaking point by his putter ... but the Holywood star's impish sense of humour did not completely evaporate in the searing heat of Atlanta.

A mischievous twinkle glittered in McIlroy's eye as he looked forward to a couple of weeks off to rest the right wrist and forearm he injured during last Thursday's first round.

“I'm actually going to Cincinnati for a few days," he said, adding: "I hear it's nice there at this time of year.”

Especially if the W&S Open Tennis Championship is being played there and you happen to be dating the women's world No 1, Caroline Wozniacki.

As McIlroy contemplated some well-earned down-time at the centre court in Cincinnati, Padraig Harrington cancelled a family holiday to The Bahamas this week to play in the Wyndham Championship at the Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Like McIlroy, Harrington finished the PGA Championship in a tie for 64th on 11-over-par yesterday after they each compiled a final round of 74.

Yet, if the 22-year-old Ulsterman is riding high in the world game after his record-breaking US Open victory at Congressional in June, Harrington needs at least “an average finish” at the Wyndham to lift himself five rungs up the FedEx Cup rankings to claim one of only 125 place in next week's first playoff, the Barclays Championship.

Harrington also needs to break back into the elite top 50 in the world rankings if he's to take full advantage of a change in the European Ryder Cup qualification process for next year's matches against the United States at Medinah. “I am going to play this week," Harrington confirmed. “Though I'd love to go on holiday, I'm feeling fine and will be in good shape for the tournament. In fact, I'd hope not to get time off for the next three or four weeks," he added, in obvious reference to the ensuing FedEx Cup events, Deutsche Bank and BMW.

Referring to the new European Ryder Cup qualifying system, in which primacy has been given to world ranking points over money earned in the Race to Dubai, Harrington went on: "The change of system makes it a lot easier for players who are members of both tours.

“The fact that I've dropped out of the top 50 in the world means I'm not going to be in events like Chevron (Tiger's tournament in December), which is guaranteed easy points,” the Dubliner explained.

“You look at an event like the PGA, where I've worked reasonably hard but get virtually nothing. I could turn up at Chevron, finish last and probably get five times the world ranking points I'd get this week.

“So I've made it tougher on myself, but, there again, I hope to play well over the coming months and therefore won't have that issue.”

Sadly, Harrington's weekend at Atlanta Athletic Club did not live up to the promise the second-round 69 he posted last Friday as he dipped below 70 for the first time two years at Major — since the third round of the 2009 PGA at Hazeltine, to be precise.

“What can I say,” he shrugged, looking back over a lack-lustre weekend in which Harrington surrendered any chance of propelling himself into contention for a fourth Major title as he played his final 36 holes on The Highlands Course in nine-over par. Sadly, it was an all-too familiar tale for him.

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