Sean O'Hair wrapped up the description of his good- but-not-good-enough performance in the U.S. Open sectional qualifying competition by saying, "Clearly, it's disappointing."
He added ruefully, "Then again, this year's been nothing but disappointing."
O'Hair, of West Chester, is going through his most frustrating year since joining the PGA Tour in 2005. He has missed eight cuts in 14 tour events this year, and his world ranking has fallen to 89. With only two top-20 finishes, he is 128th on the FedEx Cup points list and needs to make a move soon to firm up a spot for the playoffs starting in August.
On Monday, even though he carded 11 birdies in 36 holes, O'Hair failed to qualify for next week's U.S. Open by missing the number (137) he needed to reach by 3 strokes in Columbus, Ohio. He will miss his first Open since 2008, when he had to sit out with a pulled chest muscle.
"Unfortunately, my putter was a little too cold," he said. "I had a lot of opportunities from 15 feet and in, and I didn't make my share."
It's just the latest setback in a season of woe for O'Hair, who will turn 29 next month. But he is trying to stay upbeat as he works his way out of it.
"You've got to look at the positive things," he said Thursday in a telephone interview. "You can't be beating yourself up because of what you see results-wise. I feel I'm headed in the right direction. My short game is better. If I get the ball-striking working a little bit better, I'll be better off. Once the ball-striking is there, everything else takes care of itself."
The ball-striking has been an issue for O'Hair, who is a three-time winner on tour but hasn't picked up a first-prize check since the Quail Hollow Classic in 2009, the year he won more than $4.3 million. Having parted with swing coach Sean Foley in late April, he is working again with Steve Dahlby, his original coach.
He has hit 59.88 percent of his greens in regulation, compared with 68.22 percent last year. His driving accuracy is down from 64 percent last year to 56 percent in 2011. And that puts more pressure on his putting, which has not been the strongest part of his game.
O'Hair was a stroke away from making the cut at Bay Hill, the Masters, and last week's Memorial Tournament. In the Memorial, he lipped out a four-foot birdie putt on the 15th hole of his second round and drew a bad lie after missing the green at 16 and made bogey.
"I have gotten down on myself this year," he said. "I've been struggling to look at the positive side of things. I work so hard that to not see any results, that's been frustrating.
"For whatever reason, it's been kind of a weird year. I'm not putting things together, but I feel my game is there. It's a matter of the mental mistakes, the unforced errors. It's not like I'm not working hard. But I have to stay patient, and I know I can turn this around."
O'Hair, who is skipping the St. Jude Classic this weekend, will return to competition on June 23 in the Travelers Championship in Cromwell, Conn., and then return to the area for the AT&T National at Aronimink, one of his home courses.