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Cool Padraig Harrington has an eye on top Ryder role

By Kevin Garside

Padraig Harrington admits being a vice-captain in this month's Ryder Cup will tell him if he is cut out to lead a European team himself in the future.

Harrington, Jose Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez were named as Paul McGinley's final three assistants yesterday, joining Des Smyth and Sam Torrance on the backroom staff for Gleneagles.

Olazabal was captain for the 'Miracle at Medinah' in 2012 but Harrington and Jimenez are both candidates to fulfil the role in years to come, along with the likes of Ulsterman Darren Clarke and Thomas Bjorn.

Asked if he would be interested in becoming captain, Harrington said: "Absolutely I'd be interested and part of being a vice-captain is really finding out whether you are suitable to do it.

"It's a different job being the captain than a player. Being a player is quite a selfish thing, it's all about you. The captaincy, man-managing 12 people, being able to get on with all of those people and being able to organise things, its a different sort of scenario.

"My record might say yeah, I look like being a future captain, but to be honest being a vice-captain and getting in behind the scenes will tell me a lot more and tell the people in the know a lot more, whether I am possibly the right man to do the job."

Olazabal, Harrington and Jimenez have 17 Ryder Cup appearances between them, while Jimenez was vice-captain to Seve Ballesteros in 1997 and Olazabal two years ago. The 50-year-old was also picked by McGinley to captain the European team in the EurAsia Cup last March.

McGinley said: "I know it's been common in the past to have three or four vice-captains but I've gone for five because I feel an extra person is justified due to the additional workload which comes from being the home team, in addition to how well I saw such a system working when we ended up having five vice-captains under Colin Montgomerie at Celtic Manor in 2010 (Sergio Garcia was a late addition).

"Padraig is my oldest friend on Tour and is a guy I have known most of my life. We went to school together, came through the amateur ranks together and have been together in many contests for both Ireland and Europe over the years, so I know what he can bring to the team room.

"As far as Miguel is concerned, he is someone that the spectators love as well as being very popular with all the players.

"Finally, Jose Maria's passion for the Ryder Cup is recognised the world over."

Meanwhile, Ulsterman Graeme McDowell will look to rid himself of the "sour taste" of the FedEx Cup play-offs by remaining in contention for the $10million first prize this week.

McDowell missed the Deutsche Bank Championship last week due to the birth of his first child, but had accumulated enough points to remain in the top 70.

That means McDowell has travelled to Denver for the BMW Championship at Cherry Hills, starting tonight, after which the top 30 players qualify for the Tour Championship in Atlanta.

"It's nice to have that defined kind of challenge of a top-five finish to get me to Atlanta, depending upon who does what, and we all know how volatile this system can be," he said.

Belfast Telegraph


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