European Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington admits he’s being ‘selfish’ in suggesting Rory McIlroy can get his poor form out of the way prior to September’s Wisconsin showdown.
McIlroy has this week off to find the form that’s won him four majors and 23 other tournaments around the globe. It’s now over 500 days since last won out in the Far East while August will mark seven years since his last Major triumph.
And next week will hopefully be a lucky ‘Take 7’ in McIlroy’s quest to join golf’s ‘Grand Slam Club’ given it will be McIlroy’s seventh start at Augusta National since capturing the 2014 Open and the third of three different majors
McIlroy showed a slight glimpse of form last week in Texas winning 4&3 over Lanto Griffin despite being sandwiched between a humbling 6&5 thumping at the hands of Ian Poulter and halving his match with Aussie Cam Smith.
No doubt McIlroy will be at the Bear’s Club this week pounding balls on the range in readiness for next week’s 85th edition of the Masters while Harrington takes advantage of a sponsor’s invitation to tee-up in the Valero Texas Open.
And while both Harrington and Graeme McDowell will also be each looking to win and secure the last invitation into the Masters, Harrington again rubber-stamped McIlroy’s Ryder Cup credentials. As well, Harrington spoke of his delight in McIlroy turning to legendary coach Pete Cowen.
“I’m still working with Pete Cowen and choose to work with him because he is the best coach out there,” said Harrington after finishing inside the top-60 at the Corales Puntacana Championship in Puerto Rico.
“Pete will be great for Rory. Personally, I don’t see any drama in Rory working with Pete in the sense that Rory is an ebb and flow player. When Rory’s on he’s on he’s the best in the world and he’s not bad when he’s not on.
“It could be timely for me that he’s a little off his game because selfishly I want him to be in form in five months, so yeah it’s a time where Rory’s stepping back and certainly Pete’s known Rory for a long time.
“It’s not that I would not have recommended anybody else because there are excellent coaches out there but I’d strongly recommend Pete because his track record is obviously excellent.”
Meanwhile, Harrington continues to like to look of Victor Perez who again impressed in finishing fourth last week in Texas in an effort that’s seen the Frenchman, with McIlroy’s long-time caddy J P Fitzgerald on the bag, jump three places to No. 30 on the World Rankings. As well, Perez has leaped from fifth to now second on the European Team ‘World’ points table, moving past Paul Casey, Victor Hovland and Matthew Fitzpatrick.
“It was great to see Victor Pérez play so well and he seems to be good at match-play,” said Harrington. “The Europeans did really well which was great. Clearly the stand out ones were (Ian) Poulter and Pérez.
“As I said with Victor, it’s great that he’s clearly a good match player. I’ve got to know Victor really well over the last two years more because of JP (Fitzgerald – caddy) and obviously I would stop to talk with JP with Victor. That connection is good for me for sure and I’ve got to know Victor a little bit because of JP and it’s clear JP works really well with Victor.”