Saturday 16 December 2017

Harrington's Ryder spot in doubt as talk rises of shock Monty snub

Bernie McGuire at St Andrews Bay

Rumours are easy to relate but for the next eight days, still hard to prove.

However if gossip surfacing at the Scottish Seniors Open at St Andrews Bay yesterday is correct, and everyone trusts they're not, then Irish golf is in for one of its biggest shocks ever.

The rumour: Padraig Harrington will be overlooked as a Ryder Cup captain's pick in favour of Italy's Edoardo Molinari.

Molinari can still qualify for the Ryder Cup but would have to capture next week's Johnnie Walker Championship if he is to join his brother, Francesco, in an all-Italian four-ball and foursomes combination.

However Sam Torrance, the 2002 winning European captain, has backed Des Smyth's call that Colin Montgomerie cannot overlook Dublin's triple Major winner.

"Monty has just got to pick Padraig because it's just like Pavin as he has to pick Woods," said Torrance, after carding a one-under par 71 on day one.

finest

"Padraig is one of our finest players and while his game has been a little bit off lately, he's still a great player, and a great match-play player, and someone I would have on the European side for sure. If Monty was to leave Padraig out it certainly would be a huge shock."

Eamonn Darcy carded an opening-round 73 that included a third-hole double bogey but also three birdies, one a 40-foot snaking gem at the par-four 14th.

Darcy, who holed the 1987 Ryder Cup winning putt, has joined Torrance and Smyth in calling on Monty to pick his countryman.

"Monty just has to pick Padraig because he can beat everyone on the American team in match play," said Darcy. "Leaving out Padraig would be like Corey Pavin leaving out Tiger Woods and Monty would be in a no-win situation."

Smyth and Denis O'Sullivan head the five-man Irish contingent in Scotland after carding scores of one-under-par 71 to trail three shots behind defending champion Glenn Ralph of America and South African Chris Williams.

Smyth bogeyed his opening hole after having to take a penalty drop but then picked up three birdies from the third to the seventh.

"I was two under after seven and then just had so many chances and then I three-putted 17 and that left me disappointed in the end," he said.

Irish Independent

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