Editor’s note: Brian Keogh, a golf correspondent for The Irish Sun and a regular contributor to The Irish Times and Golf Digest Ireland, writes about the dilemma of five-time Ryder Cupper Padraig Harrington.
By Brian Keogh
Special to ARMCHAIR GOLF
PADRAIG HARRINGTON ADMITS THAT this week’s US PGA is his last chance to avoid the need for a Ryder Cup pick. The Dubliner plans to skip the final qualifying event at Gleneagles to play in the clashing FedExCup play-off tournament in New Jersey in two weeks’ time. And that means he must grab a top-four finish at Whistling Straits to ensure that he is not relying on one of skipper Colin Montgomerie’s three wild cards on August 29.
Confessing he could be in dire straits instead of Whistling Straits on Sunday night, Harrington said: “It’s very precarious. No one who doesn’t qualify automatically deserves to be in the team. If you don’t make it on merit, you are asking for a little bit of a favour.”
Ian Poulter sparked a massive controversy two years ago when he decided not to travel to Gleneagles despite the fact that he could still qualify for the team. It was alleged that Poulter had been given “the nod” by skipper Nick Faldo, who later handed him a captain’s pick.
But Harrington will have safety in numbers this time as Paul Casey and Justin Rose, who are also outside the qualifying places, also intend to skip the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles in favour of The Barclays.
Harrington said: “It is a very awkward situation, there’s no doubt about it. I saw the last time round that one of the players [Poulter] didn’t come to play the last event and I thought he should have. Now I am in the same situation because I have a Special Olympics clinic at The Barclays and I don’t want to let them down.
“I have talked to some of the other guys who will be looking for a pick and they are all saying they will be playing The Barclays. So at the moment I am committing to the Special Olympics and I’m going to try and qualify this week and have nothing to worry about.”
Seventh in the race for four places from the World Points List and just over €13,245 behind Miguel Angel Jimenez in the battle for the other five places from the European Points List, Harrington knows he needs a massive week in Wisconsin.
“The goal is to get in on the world ranking points because that ends in a week’s time. Even if I pass Jimenez in the money, he can jump by me in the last event in Gleneagles so the goal is to play well this week and sort it out.”
Brian Keogh covers golf for The Irish Sun and contributes to a variety of golf publications. Pay him a visit at Irish Golf Desk.
(Image: Mike Davis/Flickr)