Harrington admits to Ryder relief

PÁDRAIG HARRINGTON last night admitted he had made an “awful mess” of his attempts to qualify for Europe’s Ryder Cup team.

Harrington, who will tee off at Celtic Manor thanks to a wildcard selection from captain Colin Montgomerie, was heavily criticised for his decision to play predominantly in the USA and not his home continent’s tour this year.

The three-time major champion also revealed he was unaware of the prize fund on offer at the Czech Open, one of the events which, had he played, could have helped secure him automatic qualification.

He explained: “I focused on the world rankings assuming I was going to have a bumper year and going to qualify (for the Ryder Cup) off the world rankings.

“To be in the top four you have got to have a seriously hot year, it is not just a question of playing well, to get into that top four you need a number of big wins and lots of points. I made an awful mess of focusing on that.”

Harrington made a bad situation worse by failing to contest the final two counting tournaments, the Czech Open and the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.

He reasoned the latter event was ‘probably too late for me’ and then confessed: “I had no idea the Czech Open was as lucrative as it was. I was surprised it had more money than Gleneagles and there was definitely an opportunity there.”

The Dubliner said he was ‘incredibly nervous’ as he awaited news of Montgomerie’s picks.

“It was never easy on Monty. Europe is very strong and it was not an easy team to get into. Four of us (in contention for Montgomerie’s call) at the Deutsche Bank met each and talked about it. We could see what was unfolding and there was a lot of nervous laughter watching Edoardo play so well to get on the team. We were all nervous.”

Despite questions over his form, Harrington has backed himself to repay the skipper’s faith in him.

“I relayed that I am ready for it and looking forward to it and discussed the partnerships and teams and what he is thinking. Would I have picked myself? 100%. I am not going into that or tell you why. I’d talk about anybody else but not myself. In my head, I have no doubts.”

Tiger Woods also relied on a wild card selection for the trip to Wales and Harrington expects Woods to bounce back from a troubled time on, and off the golf course, at Celtic Manor next month.

“He is still the number one player in the world and he has shown decent form. He has a presence, an intimidation factor, and match play will suit him. He is going to be strong enough to stand up on the tee box against anybody. In previous Ryder Cups, he has struggled with the structure of the event.”

He believes there are comparisons between both himself and Woods. “We are coming into this Ryder Cup not having achieved a lot of goals this year and thinking, ‘I want to play well in this Ryder Cup to make me have a successful year’. So this Ryder Cup could be the pinnacle of the year.”

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