Sport Golf

Friday 18 October 2019

Rory's drought no Major issue, insists Harrington

Padraig Harrington. Photo: John David Mercer/USA TODAY Sports
Padraig Harrington. Photo: John David Mercer/USA TODAY Sports

Brian Keogh

Pádraig Harrington has no fears about Rory McIlroy's near five-year Major drought or the frequent Sunday blowouts from the man destined to be his team room strong man at Whistling Straits.

Wearing his 2020 Ryder Cup captain's hat, the Dubliner looks at McIlroy and sees a lot to love and little to quibble about, even if the world No 4 has won just twice over the past two and a half years.

McIlroy has won The Players and finished runner-up in a World Golf Championship and racked up another six top-10s from just nine starts this year.

But while he's also suffered more than his share of Sunday disappointments, Harrington isn't even remotely concerned.

"It's great, isn't it?" he said.

"No concerns. I'd love to be up there like him all that time, I'd love to have those problems.

"I would always say that golf is a numbers game. If Rory hadn't been in contention all the time and he won twice, would we be happier than him being in contention every week and winning once?

"As a golfer, I'd prefer to be in contention more often and putting myself out there than not and getting wins now and again.

"Look, yes, it is all about getting wins, but he has one in the bank so it's not too bad. You can see a run of out Rory where he might win five out of six weeks with the form he has. "

Harrington returns to a happy hunting ground in Bethpage Black where he was in contention in the 2002 US Open, finishing eighth, and shot a course record-equalling 64 in the Barclays Championship in 2012.

But he was quizzed as much about his decision to reduce the number of Ryder Cup wildcards from four to three and pointed out that with the BMW PGA at Wentworth now the final qualifying event for Whistling Straits, he was crystal clear.

"Anybody who wants a pick is going to have to turn up," Harrington said.

"Nobody has an excuse not to turn up at the BMW Championship. They can't say they are playing another event or they are somewhere else.

"If you want a pick, you're going to have to turn up and play a big tournament with the other players who are interested in that pick so that I can make a definitive decision as late as a week before the tournament.

"I'm a believer in having players who prove they have a commitment and want to be in the Ryder Cup.

"Well, if you want a pick on my team, you're going to have to be at the BMW Championship.

"I'm not saying it's a guarantee, but I want to see commitment."

Deadline

As for McIlroy's decision to rejoin the European Tour before the recent deadline, making him eligible to earn Ryder Cup points this year, he was understandably pleased.

"I still think Rory would have qualified starting on January 1 next year," he said.

"I know he loves it; you only have to see him in the team room during a Ryder Cup."

As for McIlroy's 'Major drought', which dates to the 2014 US PGA, he has no concerns there either.

"He could win four in two years," he said.

"Look at Jack (Nicklaus) or Tiger (Woods) or even the guys who have won eight or nine Majors, they never won them in a lovely sequence.

"People think they won them every year or every two years. Not even close. Nicklaus had plenty of gaps. That's the nature of the game. People assume it's a straight line but it's far from it."

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