CROMWELL, Conn. -- 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 U.S. Open on Sunday -- and a birdie at the last would have put him in a playoff with Webb Simpson.
Both are now at the Travelers Championship, where for the first two rounds Simpson will play with PGA Champion Keegan Bradley and Masters champion Bubba Watson. Harrington, meanwhile, is with fellow British Open champions Louis Oosthuizen and Justin Leonard.
"It was a case of so near, but yet so far," said the 40-year-old Dubliner of his week at The Olympic Club. "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 1 over par," he said. "Had 2 over played off, I would have been devastated."
He had gone into the week 94th in the world ranking 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 British 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," he said. "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 only has two wild cards.