No hard feelings as Harrington grins and bears it

Pádraig Harrington insists he bears no grudge against Ryder Cup captain José Maria Olazabal after the Irishman was overlooked for selection on the team for next month’s event in the US.

The three-time Major winner had been given an ultimatum by the Spaniard prior to last week’s Barclay’s Championship that to be considered for selection he had to ‘at least’ win.

But Harrington failed in his bid and he admitted on Newstalk’s Off the Ball show last night that he was at peace with the decision and wished the team well.

“It was a phone call I was expecting to get,” said Harrington. “We were all well aware I wasn’t getting picked from the US PGA three weeks ago, it made my last couple of weeks reasonably easy.

“I think it was clear I wasn’t getting into the team. I was focused on trying to win the Barcclays, I wasn’t focused on getting into the Ryder Cup, one would look after the other.”

But the Irishman said when he got the ill-fated call from Olazabal, their dialogue was “more than cordial” and didn’t any hint of a rift that is believed to exist between the pair.

“It wasn’t just us going through the basics of it. I wish José, I wish the two guys he’s picked and the team the best of luck. It’s important for me that they win the Ryder Cup. I will sit and watch it. I’ll have a golfing-fest and I’ll see more of it this time around than I would if I was playing.”

Meanwhile, Olazabal last night admitted his call informing Harrington he was out of the Ryder Cup was “the hardest I had to make.”

The triple Major winner’s run of six straight Ryder Cup appearances career ended just after noon yesterday within the palatial surrounds of the Gleneagles Hotel.

Predictably, Olazabal selected England’s Ian Poulter and rookie Nicolas Colsaerts who will become the first Belgian-born player to compete in the Ryder Cup’s 85-year history.

However, Harrington could look back to an indifferent season, and in the eyes of many, his decision not to make the effort to try and qualify by not contesting last fortnight’s Wyndham Championship and, for a second Ryder Cup running, turning down the last team qualifying event at Gleneagles for the lure of the multi-million dollar FedEx Cup Series, all worked against him.

“My telephone call to Pádraig was the hardest I had to make because he is a great champion,” said Olazabal.

“So I felt I needed to make that phone call more to him than to anyone else. But I have to say to Pádraig’s credit he took it well. That’s my perception, anyway.”

And Olazabal used the occasion to reinforce his disappointment of suggestions of any lingering bad blood between the duo following an incident at the 2003 Seve Trophy.

“I was a little bit upset with what happened earlier in the week, and after Pádraig had shot a 64 and all of a sudden, ‘Oh, my God’ here was these articles about what happened about what nine, 10 years ago,” he said.

“That is totally untrue and I want to have the best players in my team and Pádraig is a great player, and he’s proven so. I am not sure if I was misunderstood but when I said on Thursday that Harrington needed to at least win (The Barclays) had been the same scenario for Sergio (Garcia), and then if Pádraig did win I would have to think about it. So, I wasn’t saying that if he did not win that he didn’t have a chance. No, it was nothing like that but if he did win The Barclays it would have made life a little bit more difficult for me. If he had of won, he would have been in the equation without a doubt.

“But I could say that about Paul Casey, Robert Karlsson or Henrik Stenson or many past Ryder Cup players that have done well. The fact is that he didn’t even perform to his own standards.”

More in this section

Sport Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox