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Thursday 17 April 2014

Harrington wants Ryder Cup captaincy–just not yet

Padraig Harrington

PADRAIG Harrington has thrown his hat into the ring for the captaincy of the European Ryder Cup team -- but not for Gleneagles 2014.

The three-time Major champion, who had to sit at home and watch the pulsating drama of Medinah unfold on television, is more determined than ever to play his way into the team for the Ryder Cup in Scotland.

And even though he accepts that captaincy can be a "poisoned chalice", Harrington definitely has the job on his list of career goals.

"Absolutely, but not just yet. I hope to play a few more but I definitely would love to be captain. It's a difficult job. You could do a good job and if the team loses, it's down to you. If you do a bad job and the team wins, you get the glory.

"It is a bit of a poisoned chalice, but it's definitely something everybody would want to take on in their career," said Harrington.

An image comes to mind of Harrington's weekend being similar to a kid watching from outside the window of a sweet shop while his mates are inside gorging themselves on treats.

pangs

The Dubliner tried his best to make the team for Medinah, but failed to garner enough qualifying points. Harrington admitted he felt a few pangs when the match teed off on day one.

"It was tougher when it started off on Friday, not being there. At the end of it, you're just absorbed in the coverage. You're not really thinking about yourself as you're watching the singles.

"There's no doubt as you are watching the foursomes and four-balls, there's an element of 'I wonder who would I have been partnered with', 'would I have been playing foursomes or four-balls', that sort of thing.

"When it comes to the singles, you're just enthralled by what's happening. The rest of it was certainly kind of strange, watching the foursomes and four-balls. But that's the nature of golf," he said.

The debate about an Irish captain is in full flow, but though Harrington expects Scotland's Paul Lawrie to be a contender for Gleneagles, he feels the job should go to an Irishman.

"It's certainly looking like an Irish captain for the next one, although I could see Paul Lawrie throwing his hat in there, but maybe he might think now he can play again in the next one.

"If you had asked me this six months ago, I would have said Paul (McGinley) is the only man in the running, but obviously with Paul Lawrie and Darren (Clarke) there it changes things.

"As much as Paul looks like the captain who has done his apprenticeship, it's likely it's going to go to Darren who has had a bigger European career," said Harrington.

This week, Harrington returns to action in the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship which will be played at St Andrews (Old), Carnoustie and Kingsbarns.

He won the tournament in 2002 and 2006, and feels inspired by the Ryder Cup excitement to push ahead for a big finish to the 2012 season.

Harrington travelled to Scotland yesterday afternoon, but earlier he offered an intriguing potential solution to Rory McIlroy's self-admitted dilemma about the 2016 Olympics.

Under the proposed Olympic selection criteria, the top 15 players in the world rankings automatically qualify.

Beyond that, the suggestion for qualification is based on the world rankings, with a maximum of two players allowed from countries that do not already have two or more players in the top 15. For example, if the teams were selected today, and McIlroy declared for Team GB, Britain would have four players inside the top 15 -- McIlroy (1), Luke Donald (3), Lee Westwood (4) and Justin Rose (5).

In that hypothetical scenario, Graeme McDowell, 18th in the world and also from Northern Ireland, would not get into Team GB, even if he wished to declare for them, so the Irish team would be decided on the two top Irishmen in the rankings, which today are McDowell (18) and Harrington (57).

Harrington accepts it's a difficult situation and one he would hate to face himself, but he does wonder would it be strategically more beneficial for McIlroy and possibly McDowell to go with Team GB and open up more chances for Irish players to perform at the Olympics.

By 2016 that could mean, for example, Ireland being represented by Shane Lowry and Michael Hoey, or Harrington could be in contention.

Perhaps it would be the ultimate Irish joke -- 'give' McIlroy and McDowell to Team GB so four players who have developed through the GUI system could play in the Olympics!

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