Harrington doing all he can at Bethpage
Golf:Pádraig Harrington needed to turn on the style at The Barclays to have any hope of having a Ryder Cup wild card pick thrown his way, and he delivered in spectacular fashion at Bethpage Black this afternoon, but even if he keeps it up the odds look long.
European captain Jose Maria Olazabal might have a hard sell in convincing some the three-time major winner doesn’t deserve a place at Medinah next month if he is in the same spot come Sunday, but the Spaniard was setting the bar pretty high this afternoon when informed of Harrington's 64.
“At least a win,” he replied with a smile at Gleneagles, when asked what the Irishman had to do. This, a week after insisting it would take something "extraordinary".
It's a big ask, for the field is tightly bunched at Farmingdale, but Harrington was on top of that pile this evening and news of Nicolas Colsaerts's steady start (he shot a 69 to lie two off the lead) in Gleneagles, where he hopes to snatch the final automatic place, may offer a little more hope to the Dubliner.
Even a victory, however, doesn't guarantee anything and Harrington admitted after his round that he's not sure where he stands with Olazabal. And when you don't know that, it's hard to know which way to move next.
"I'm either going to look like I'm pleading or I'm going to look like I'm incriminating myself, one or the other," said Harrington, reluctant to get into a discussion about his chequered history with the Spanish veteran. "From the character that he is, I believe he would put winning way above anything that's personal."The issue would not go away, however, and Harrington eventually resorted to the only analogy an Irishman can when pressed for an answer.
"You know, I know we're getting a lot of questions on this, and I shot 64 today and I hit some nice shots. We're talking about the wrong stuff. But I'm Irish, and being brought up in Ireland, we have a lot of ... we pay a lot of attention to bookmakers and their odds, and I'm sure if I went and had a look at the odds, I would be a longshot to make the team."
If it wasn’t for a bogey at the par three third, when he pulled a tee-shot left, he would have carded a 63 on the par 71. As it stands, the eight birdies that followed – six on the back nine as he came home in 29 – were good enough for a seven-under-par clubhouse target in the first of the PGA Tour's four lucrative FedExCup play-off events.
He's a stroke ahead of Americans Nick Watney and Brian Harman, while Sergio Garcia, who ended a four-year title drought on the PGA Tour by winning the Wyndham Championship last week, opened with a 66.
Tiger Woods was three under, one ahead of playing partner Rory McIlroy. The USPGA champion began on the tenth and by the first tee he was three under, but bogeys at three and six contributed to a 37 on the way in. He was happy enough, nonetheless.
"I thought I played really solid," said the Northern Irishman, "especially starting off, three under through six, and hit a lot of great tee shots and a lot of good approach shots, as well."
Woods, a triple winner on the 2012 PGA Tour who led the FedExCup standings coming into this week, expressed mixed views about his round after failing to make the most of soft, receptive conditions on a benign morning.
"I'm all right," said the 14-time major winner. "I didn't quite hit the ball as well as I would like. I'm going to do some work this afternoon and work on a couple things that I know I need to shore up for tomorrow. But I'm very pleased with the way I putted. I putted great today."
Graeme McDowell will need to make ground tomorrow after he carded a 75.