Padraig Harrington insists he is closer than ever to a return to the winners’ enclosure at the Majors despite a 39th place finish in the British Open on Sunday.

Harrington, now ranked world number 59, will go to Kiawah Island for the U.S. PGA Championship confident that he can follow British Open winner Ernie Els’ lead at Lytham and win his fourth major.

After finishing eighth in the Masters and fourth in the U.S. Open already this season, Harrington will go into the U.S. PGA next month in good mood.

After his final round at Lytham, he said, “I needed birdie at the last to get into a playoff in the U.S. Open only a few weeks ago.

“I’m playing as good as I’ve ever played and while I could putt a little bit better, I’m putting better than I have been for a good while, so I’m in good stead.

“Yes, I finished on five over this week but you’d be surprised how easily that turns into a one or two or three under.  I couldn’t be happier with how my game is.  This week I didn’t have a great week on the greens at times but it wasn’t far away, either.”

Rory McIlroy endured a wretched British Open when he finished tied for 60th, 15 shots off Els, for his worst ever placing in the event.

He said, “I think the thing for me is to stay patient and if it doesn’t happen over the next couple of weeks it’s no big deal.

“It’s a 20-year career, so I’m not going to get too wound up just over a few weeks. I’ve got to keep working away, plugging away.”

Graeme McDowell finished best of the Irish in tied fifth, five shots adrift of Els.

McIlroy is down to third place in the world rankings after his poor showing, while McDowell is now 11th.

Padraig HarringtonStuart Franklin/Getty Images Europe