Harrington lays down challenge to Ryder Cup hopefuls – “There’s still time”

John Craven

Padraig Harrington (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

John Craven

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European Ryder Cup Captain Padraig Harrington insists that with four counting events to go, there’s still time for players to stake a claim for a seat on his team’s flight to Wisconsin.

The make-up of Harrington’s side is becoming clearer by the week with the nine players currently inside the automatic spots largely unchanged for a number of weeks now. Shane Lowry is the most recent addition in ninth spot on the standings with Bernd Wiesberger, Victor Perez, Robert MacIntyre and Ian Poulter firmly on the bubble.

With Justin Rose narrowly missing out on his place in the FedEx Cup playoffs after a costly final hole three-putt at the Wyndham last week, that leaves the Englishman vying with the likes of Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson and Danny Willett for three precious wildcard picks – two of which, Harrington has already hinted, look increasingly reserved for Poulter and Garcia.

Harrington is in Prague this week to run the rule over some European hopefuls and after arriving late from the States and battling a bit of jet-lag, he was asked about how his side is shaping up ahead of September’s match at Whistling Straits.

“The team is almost set, there’s no doubt about it,” Harrington said. “There’s probably…it’s difficult to say…one guy will play their way in, maybe one spot will change in the top nine. They’re really all trying to play to impress for those three picks and with four counting events left, there is still time.

“It’s encouraging to see Danny (Willett) here, it’s encouraging to see Frankie Molinari entering next week – that sort of stuff. There’s are players who, if they put in a bit of a run at the end, could play their way in. It’s a nice sign for me that there’s guys out there trying to do it.”

After the Covid upheaval, last year’s postponement amid the ‘will they, won’t they’ play without fans speculation and a seemingly constant cloud of uncertainty since Harrington’s appointment in January, 2019, incredibly, some two and a half years later, it feels like next month’s date at Whistling Straits has snuck up on the three-time Major winner whose work’s been steadily mounting in recent weeks.

“It’s getting a little bit more there at this stage – not necessarily the team, it’s been pretty solid all through, there hasn’t been a lot of changing. But we’re getting down with the Vice Captains on partnerships,” he explained.

“Who’s likely to be playing with who when it comes to the actual matches. It’s a little bit more detailed at this stage. I wouldn’t say I’m up in the middle of the night stressing over it but I’m starting to pay attention and really getting into the nitty gritty of if we play X with Y, who ends up playing with Z. All the partnerships have knock-on effects. It’s interesting, to say the least.

“It’s busy. This is with a year’s delay, but it’s certainly getting busier and busier. There’s detail to be thought about – it’s four weeks to go now and it’s coming in quick. Up to this stage, I felt like I had time, but if anything you start to get a feeling of running out of time.”

Harrington will play with Henrik Stenson over the first two days in Prague. Gavin Moynihan and Niall Kearney are also in the field.

  • European Team Standings HERE

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