Padraig Harrington’s Ryder Cup bid hangs in the balance, says Paul McGinley
After being “pushed into a corner”, Ryder Cup vice-captain Paul McGinley sided with a groundswell of opinion that Padraig Harrington should have returned to Europe and seek to qualify automatically for the European Ryder Cup Team.
Harrington was simply 1,247 points away from an automatic qualifying position ahead of last week's Czech Open. That was less than half the 2,976 euro prize cheque handed to fellow Irishman Gary Murphy after finishing 79th and at the tail of the field in Celadna.
Instead, Sweden's Peter Hanson made the journey from the US PGA at Wisconsin to the Czech Republic to capture a second Tour victory this year, and the strong likelihood now of a first ever European Team cap.
Harrington found himself instead bumped two places outside of qualifying and now — despite showing good form on day two of the Barclays Championship in New Jersey, shooting a three under par, leaving him on five under overall — has to rely on European team captain Colin Montgomerie choosing him tomorrow night as one of his three Celtic Manor ‘wild card' picks.
McGinley added a second-round two-under-par 70 to his opening round of 68 to move to six-under par and just three strokes from the lead in the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.
However, upon emerging from the scorer's hut, McGinley found there was no escaping a media ‘ambush' with close to a dozen reporters looking to speak with the Dubliner.
After the courtesy of asking McGinley about his round of three birdies and just one bogey, it was straight into the subject of the eventual make-up of the European Team.
“You're pushing me into a corner,” he said. “Everything was a shame. Padraig was a thousand euro out of the team before last week, so make up your own mind. It's disappointing. Padraig is a world-class player and I've been fortunate to play great Ryder Cup matches with him and he's a really good friend of mine.
“But he's in for a pick. He hasn't qualified for the team and by his own admission, and from what I've read as someone was quoting him as saying, he hasn't had his schedule quite right and as a result he's looking for a pick.”
But McGinley afterwards made the remark that could see Harrington becoming the third Irish-born member of this year's European side. “There's that old saying that form is temporary, class is permanent,” said McGinley.
Frenchman Julien Guerrier (67) and the England duo of David Lynn (68) and Gary Boyd (68) share the Gleneagles lead by two strokes at nine-under par.
McGinley is among a handful of players including Ryder Cup aspirants Miguel Angel Jimenez (68), Simon Dyson (68) and Edoardo Molinari (68) on six-under par. Damien McGrane birdied three holes in succession to be just a stroke further back at five-under par.
Meanwhile Rory McIlroy fell off the pace in the Barclays Championship. He shot a three over par leaving him on par overall.