Harrington facing crucial week as Ryder selection looms

Sergio Garcia’s good form in the US this weekend means Pádraig Harrington will need a FedEx Cup play-off victory at The Barclays next Sunday if he is to realise his ambition of a Ryder Cup wild card next month at Medinah.

Harrington’s hopes were dealt a blow at the PGA Championship last week, first by European captain Jose Maria Olazabal ahead of the year’s final major and then by his own tie for 18th at Kiawah Island.

That left Harrington admitting he needed something “exceptional” at Bethpage this week in order to convince Olazabal he was worth one of the two spots the Spaniard will announce a week today.

With Garcia taking a one-shot lead into last night’s final round of the Wyndham Championship in North Carolina, even that might not be good enough. Olazabal’s compatriot was this weekend displaying some of the steely form and aggressive iron play that made him a five-time Ryder Cup stalwart. It was the kind of form that also convinced Colin Montgomerie to make him an assistant captain at Celtic Manor in 2010 before his game had deserted him completely.

Now the game is back, Garcia, whom Olazabal made encouraging noises about in the same press conference at Kiawah that poured cold water on Harrington’s putting, looks a good bet to make the plane for Chicago.

He may even take the 10th and final automatic qualifying spot and with that place resembling a duel with another Ryder Cup must-pick in Ian Poulter, one has to assume Harrington is right in his assessment that there really is just one wild card up for grabs.

Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts may well be at the front of the queue for that. He was the next in line on the points list after Garcia and Poulter — thanks largely to his superb victory at the Volvo World Match Play in May and he was also showing good form at the Wyndham this weekend.

Furthermore, he will be teeing it up at Gleneagles this Thursday in the Johnnie Walker Championship alongside Olazabal and his three newly-appointed vice captains, Thomas Bjorn, Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley. While Garcia, Poulter and Harrington play in the States, Colsaerts will go to work in Scotland, attempting to make himself an automatic selection with a victory in front of the skipper in the final qualifying event.

That could make for a very nervy Sunday on both sides of the Atlantic and an agonising wait for Olazabal’s decision the next day.


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