Harrington back in the swing
Padraig Harrington has another chance this week to show that he really is coming back to his best.
After finishing eighth at The Masters in April Ireland's three-major champion was fourth at the US Open on Sunday - and a birdie at the last would have put him in a play-off with Webb Simpson.
Both are now at the Travelers Championship in Connecticut, where for the first two rounds Simpson joins Keegan Bradley and Bubba Watson, current holders of the USPGA and Masters titles.
Harrington, meanwhile, is with fellow Open champions Louis Oosthuizen and Justin Leonard.
"It was a case of so near, but yet so far," said the 40-year-old Dubliner. "It was my best finish of the year so far, but I am coming away from San Francisco knowing that I could so easily have got to the winning score."
He four-putted twice and three-putted once on the opening day, then on the final hole pulled his approach "a fraction" and found a bad lie in the bunker.
Harrington thought he needed a birdie there and after failing to get up and down was relieved to be proved right.
"I must admit that I was very happy to see Webb finish on one over par. Had two over played off I would have been devastated."
He had gone into the week 94th in the world and came out of it 75th.
That is still a long way from where he wants to be, but it makes him look forward to The Open at Royal Lytham in under a month's time even more.
"Looking back on the week it only hammered home to me that the most important thing at a major is your short game. It all comes down to wedges, chipping, putting and bunker play."
Despite having played five of the last six weeks Harrington also has the Irish and Scottish Opens before the next major. That will make it nine tournaments in 11 weeks.
He hopes it will be a run that also brings him back into the Ryder Cup reckoning. One of Colin Montgomerie's three picks two years ago he is down at 23rd on the table and captain Jose Maria Olazabal has gone for only two wild cards.
As well as moving to a career-high fifth in the world Simpson leapt from 25th to third on the American cup standings behind Jason Dufner and Watson.
He and Watson were partners - and rookies - at the Presidents Cup last November and, sent out first each time by captain Fred Couples, won three of their four games together.
England's Ian Poulter, 13th in the European race, looks to hit back from his 41st place in San Francisco, disappointing given that he started with a level par 70 to be only a shot off second spot.
"Two days at home after US Open feels like a week off," he said on Twitter before flying to Hartford today.