Sport Golf

Wednesday 3 September 2014

Olympic decision good for Rory and Graeme but bad for me – Harrington

Karl MacGinty

Published 25/04/2013 | 05:00

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Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy played together on the 2010 Ryder Cup team and all three have represented Ireland
Padraig Harrington

Padraig Harrington has heartily endorsed the R&A decision that Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell must play for Ireland at the Olympics, but admitted: "It may not be good for me."

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"The way I look at it, this is a sensible move and good for the game of golf," said the Dubliner of a plan by R&A Chief Executive Peter Dawson to smooth the road to Rio for Ulster's Major champions.

"If I was in the ruling body, I'd make the same decision," added Harrington.

Yet if the Games were being played today, the selection of world No 2 McIlroy and No 8 McDowell for Ireland would mean no place in Rio for Ireland's three-time Major champion.

"It's very like the decision to ban box grooves," Harrington (right) said with a grin. "It's the right move to make but maybe not in my best interests."

Only the world's top 15 are guaranteed their place in the 60-man Olympic field. The remaining 45 spots will go to the highest-ranked players from countries that do not already have two qualified.

"The way things stand at the moment, I'd not get in the team," explained Harrington, currently 53rd in the rankings.

"I'm determined not to let anybody else decide my fate, so I want to be in the top 15 in 2016 and again in 2020," he insisted. "That's the goal."

Harrington will be 49 in 2020 but said: "I don't see a problem with that. I'm physically fitter, stronger and have fewer injuries than at any other stage in my career and I hit the golf ball further than ever before. I don't putt and chip quite as well as I have in past years, but I don't put that down as an age or a mental thing, it's more of a practice issue," he explained. "So, why not?"

Faced with having to choose between Team GB and Ireland, McIlroy said last year he might not play in Rio.

As a leading campaigner for golf's inclusion, Harrington insisted: "It's massively important the best golfers are seen to support the Olympics."

Irish Independent

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