Monty’s Ryder Cup wild card boost for Harrington

PÁDRAIG Harrington’s hopes of winning a Ryder Cup wild card got a significant boost from European captain Colin Montgomerie last night as rival skipper Corey Pavin said his United States team were underdogs for the October showdown at Celtic Manor.

Three-time major champion Harrington is currently lying outside the top nine automatic qualification places in the European standings with the deadline falling on August 29 at the end of the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.

Harrington, who will try to gain an automatic spot at this week’s US PGA Championship, has already decided to skip Gleneagles, preferring to play in the United States that week at The Barclays, where he is also committed to a teaching clinic for Special Olympics.

With English duo Paul Casey and Justin Rose in similar positions and also heading to The Barclays, the first event in the PGA Tour’s FedEx Cup play-off series, Montgomerie has accepted that his desire to see all his team hopefuls in Gleneagles that week is a lost cause.

“What’s happened is a number of my potential candidates are going to be playing over here, as opposed to at Gleneagles,” said Montgomerie, during a joint press conference at Whistling Straits with Pavin. “I said at the start of the year that I would like everybody that was in that position to be playing at Gleneagles.

“I accept that the FedEx series and the way they have played and how well they have played has given them opportunity to do very well within this FedEx series. I think a big reason why the American team did so well last time, two years ago, at Valhalla, is due to the FedEx series in that it’s keeping the Americans playing throughout this time between the US PGA and The Ryder Cup.

“A lot of the Americans are now playing competitive golf between that time and the FedEx series has helped them. So if that’s helping the Americans play well, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t help us, as well. I have a number of players, a great number, more than half my team, competing in that FedEx series, and I wish them success.

“So it won’t affect them either way if they don’t happen to be playing at Gleneagles.”

Pavin, who like Montgomerie is playing in the US PGA this week, will find out the top eight qualifiers for his team this Sunday and he is hoping Tiger Woods plays his way onto the team from his 10th place in the standings.

Whether Woods plays or not, Pavin will still regard his team as the outsiders when they defend the cup in Wales on October 1-3.

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