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Upbeat Harrington makes Major claims

GOLF: Padraig Harrington performed impressively enough over the week at Olympic in the US Open, saving his best until last with a closing round of 68, to suggest his future may still bring a fourth Major title.

As he ventured out into the cold fog that enveloped many of San Francisco's south-western suburbs yesterday afternoon, Harrington had already shrugged off the disappointment of the third-round 71 which left him tied-18th and six off the pace to improve with a round of two under, which left him two shots behind the winner.

When Harrington bogeyed the sixth hole yesterday, he dropped back to seven over for the championship. Then he rattled off three straight birdies -- and five in 11 holes -- to vault to 2 over with one hole to play.

Going for a birdie to get to one over, Harrington buried himself in the left bunker and exploded out across the green, before nearly chipping in for par. He tapped in for bogey to finish at three over for the championship and a final-round 68. It turns out that a birdie would have landed Harrington in a playoff.

"I had a great chance coming down the last, and I felt good over the ball," said the Dubliner. "I felt like I needed to make a birdie for sure."

"There will be more Major wins," he concluded with conviction.

After the bitter disappointment of yet another missed cut -- his fourth in five tournaments -- Rory McIlroy faces a huge test of character in the coming weeks. Rounds of 77 and 73 meant McIlroy exited on 10-over-par.

"I felt I really turned a corner last week (he was seventh in Memphis and shared the lead until a closing double bogey), but this course is so punishing," said the world No2.

"You really have to be so precise out there. We're just not used to playing this sort of course week in, week out. You have to adapt and adjust and I wasn't able to do that very well."