Friday 23 February 2018

Padraig Harrington in last-chance saloon to keep ailing Ryder Cup hopes alive

Harrington: Turkish Open mission
Harrington: Turkish Open mission

Karl MacGinty

TWO of Irish golf's greatest warhorses, Darren Clarke and Padraig Harrington, seek salvation this week on opposite sides of the planet.

It's make or break for Harrington at the Turkish Open, where he must finish in the top 11 on Sunday on the Montgomerie course in Antalya to clinch a place in next week's DP World Championship in Dubai.

If he's to have any realistic chance of making Paul McGinley's Ryder Cup team at Gleneagles next September, the 42-year-old Dubliner must climb from world No 111 back into the world's elite top 50 by the new year.

Currently 67th in the Race to Dubai (€78,673 outside the top 60 who qualify for next week), Harrington's competitive year will end on Sunday if he doesn't bank €90,000 or more in Turkey.

The fruitless search for good form has left him so exhausted he's planning an extended winter break.

Unlikely to resume until the Phoenix Open in late January, Harrington will be touch and go for the Accenture Match Play and Cadillac World Championships – and, by extension, the US Masters, US Open and Ryder Cup – if he doesn't get closer to the top 50 before Christmas.

He has had just five top-10 finishes and missed 10 cuts in 27 world ranking events this year. However, a recent chipping tip from Aussie Brett Rumford and an improvement in his putting at the recent BMW Masters in Shanghai gives Harrington cause for hope in Turkey.

The pressure on Clarke (45) is not as immediate as he takes up membership of America's PGA Tour in the McGladrey Classic, a tournament hosted on Sea Island, Georgia, by his good friend Davis Love III, followed by next week's OHL Classic in Mayakoba, Mexico.

Still, Clarke, down to world No 283, embarks on this US adventure determined to end a worldwide victory drought since his 2011 British Open win and revitalise his career. The PGA Tour exemption he won at Sandwich lasts three more years.

Irish Independent

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