Harrington enjoying pressure of wild card role

Harrington enjoying pressure of wild card role

Padraig Harrington is champing at the bit for the Ryder Cup to arrive – and so, he suspects, is Tiger Woods.

For the first time in their careers the pair have needed wild cards after failing to qualify and with the match at Celtic Manor now less than two weeks away Harrington has spoken of the extra pressure that brings.

“When you get picked you are under the spotlight more,” said the Dubliner, controversially preferred to current world number seven Paul Casey when he was without a Tour title for over two years and had not won any of his last nine cup games.

“You have something to prove, in many ways you’re trying to justify it.

“There’s definitely more pressure, but pressure brings a bit more adrenaline, more nerves, more focus.

“I’m into this well in advance – it’s all about the Ryder Cup. I’m trying to hold myself back and I’m excited about getting into it.

“It definitely feels different.

“You are told to be there Monday of Ryder Cup week and I am like ’great - ready to go’, whereas two years ago I was ’that’s very early. Do I need to be there Monday? Do I have to?’

“When you get picked you are up for everything. You kind of want to get there extra early. You want to go the extra step. Last time I was tired and wanted to do my own thing.”

Harrington managed only one half-point in the Valhalla defeat, which followed his successful defence of The Open and then just three weeks later another victory at the US PGA.

“I was flat then. Whatever happens this time I don’t think I’m going to be flat,” he said.

“I’m hoping for the Ryder Cup to be my peak this year. I’m working towards that and definitely there’s a sense of expectation.”

Just as he states he would have picked himself “100%”, largely because of the experience he brings to a side containing six uncapped players, so he is totally sure he would have selected Woods if he had been in Corey Pavin’s shoes.

“He is the number one golfer in the world still by rankings, he is showing decent form and he has a presence – an intimidation factor,” said Harrington.

“Match play will suit him. At the end of the day he is comfortably strong enough to stand up against anybody.

“In every match he plays I don’t think any bookmaker will be making him a long shot.

“Maybe just like myself I think Tiger in previous Ryder Cups has struggled with the structure of the event. I think he has talked about that in the past.

“For him, playing a practice round at 11 o’clock in the morning is something he has never done in his life – it’s six o’clock and off the golf course by 11 - and there are a lot of things at the Ryder Cup which don’t suit Tiger’s normal schedule.

“But having got a pick this year he might be a bit like me. It’s ’what do you need me to do?’ You’re not as focused on yourself, you are much more focused on the team.

“He’s coming into this Ryder Cup not having succeeded and achieved a lot of his goals this year. He’s coming in thinking ’I want to play well in this Ryder Cup to make me have a successful year’.

“In many ways the Ryder Cup could be the pinnacle of this year just like it could be for me. Definitely he’ll be in a fighting mood for the week – a mood to perform.

“Two years ago I was burnt out for the season. Tiger’s not going to be that way and I’m not going to be that way coming in this.”

The duo both failed to be among the 30 who qualified for next week’s Tour Championship in Atlanta – the final leg of the FedEx Cup play-offs.

But while Woods is practising at home before the team flies over, Harrington, now outside the world’s top 20 for the first time in over four years, has entered next week’s Vivendi Cup in Paris.

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