Harrington fearing for Ryder Cup spot

Padraig Harrington will not make this year's Ryder Cup team unless he plays "really extraordinarily well" in the closing stages of the race.

Golf News: Padraig Harrington

Those were the three words chosen and repeated by Europe's captain Jose Maria Olazabal on Wednesday on the eve of the USPGA Championship, an event Harrington won in 2008 and may have to win again to qualify for a seventh successive cap.

The 40-year-old Dubliner needed one of Colin Montgomerie's three captain's picks to keep his cup running going two years ago, but Olazabal has opted for only two wild cards.

Harrington stands 19th in the standings and although the race does not finish until August 26 - for the Americans the end comes this Sunday - the start of the FedEx Cup play-offs that week does not count for points.

"He's well down the list - he will have to really do extraordinary well here," Olazabal said.

"We've known Padraig, he's a very methodical player - he really works hard at it.

"I've played with him a couple of times during this year. From tee-to-green his game has been fairly good, but I think his putting has let him down this year so far.

"Three weeks left - if he really does extraordinarily well, he can have a great chance of making the team still, but it's going to be up to him."

Harrington almost dropped out of the world's top 100 earlier this season, but he has also finished eighth in The Masters and fourth in the US Open - and this week he is back on the Kiawah Island course in South Carolina where he and Paul McGinley lifted the 1997 World Cup for Ireland.

Ian Poulter, outstanding in the last two matches and winner of two World Match Play titles, is also in need of a pick as things stand and it could be that Sergio Garcia, currently in the 10th and last automatic position, requires one as well.

Olazabal spoke in glowing terms of his fellow Spaniard, who like him served as a vice-captain as Celtic Manor after not making the side.

"You've seen him play a Ryder Cup - he's a great team player. His spirit is always really good," he said.

"In that regard, I think he's a great asset to the team. He has obviously the experience, the knowledge. He wants to be part of it.

"It's true that at the moment his game is a little bit off.

"Pairing-wise he's proved the last few Ryder Cups he can play with anybody and he's done well - and I think that's very important.

"If you are looking at the players to be on your team, Sergio would certainly be one of them for sure."

Harrington has been asked this week if he was able to put the Ryder Cup to one side this week and just focus on the major at hand.

"I have to," he told reporters. "I can't concentrate on something I haven't control over. I've just got to keep playing my golf and be content that I'm playing well."

Davis Love is the United States captain and he enters the last week of qualifying looking at a list that shows four-time major winner Phil Mickelson in the eighth and last automatic spot.

Questioned on whether he could see a situation where Mickelson is not given a wild-card if need be Love, who does not name his four selections until September 4, replied: "He could be hurt or not want to play.

"I've talked to Phil several times this week and watched him play a little bit and he's very excited about making the team.

"I think he and Steve (Stricker) and a lot of guys are trying really hard to make the team and that might be hurting them a little bit.

"We have all been there - the last few weeks you press a little bit, you try a little too hard.

"I have a feeling that Phil is going to play well sometime in the next three weeks and it will be back to normal for him.

"He doesn't want to get picked. When you keep making a bunch of teams you don't want to be picked, you want to make it. I know he's grinding.

"But it would be hard to play without him. He's been such a big part of a lot of Ryder Cups in a row."

Mickelson would set an American record of nine caps if he is in Chicago next month.

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