Sunday 23 July 2017

Ryder Cup selection bid may cost Harrington dear

Karl MacGinty

IT seems like chump change alongside the €30m-plus Padraig Harrington has won in his career, but the trifling €13,246 which currently stands between him and automatic selection on the European Ryder Cup team could turn into a multi-million dollar headache for the Dubliner.

Should Harrington fail to make it into the top nine of the Ryder Cup rankings at this week's US PGA Championship, he'll come under pressure to change his schedule to include Europe's final qualifying event, the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.

Though the three-time Major Champion can rely on a wild card from Colin Montgomerie if he needs one, the skipper's made it clear he'd like Harrington to make the team under his own steam.

Though a splendid final-round 66 last Sunday propelled Harrington into the top 10 at Firestone, the prize money he won left him tantalising shy of the man in ninth place, Miguel Angel Jimenez.

Harrington rose five places to 52nd in the FedEx rankings on the back of last Sunday's performance. Yet his prospects of making any headway in the four $7.5m play-off events (never mind challenge for the $10m top prize) would be sorely dented if he had to withdraw from the first in the series, the Barclays, the week after next.

His main sponsors would prefer to see Harrington in action in New Jersey and the Irishman also has a special engagement scheduled for New York early that week in his capacity as a Global Ambassador to the Special Olympics.

Yet if his place on the European team was not safe after next Sunday, Harrington would be duty-bound to skip Barclays, which doesn't count in the Ryder Cup team rankings, and come back to play for his place at Gleneagles.

Montgomerie says he'd like Harrington and Paul Casey "to make the team and make my job slightly easier when it comes to picking the next three".

Monty looks like being without the services of Sergio Garcia after the Spaniard announced his intention to take a two-month break from the game

The Spaniard, a fixture in Europe's teams since 1999, holds the remarkable record of never losing a Ryder Cup foursomes, but has endured a miserable unravelling this season. He has played just 17 events and confirmed, after a closing 70 in the Bridgestone Invitational, that he needed time to digest his decline.

Garcia has suggested he would accept a wild card if offered one, but that prospect looks remote after his withdrawal from this week's US PGA.

Irish Independent

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