Olazabal: Paddy needs 'at least a win' to make team

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Padraig Harrington opened with a near-flawless 64 Thursday at Bethpage Black, a fitting response to European Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal’s statement that the Irishman needed to do something “extraordinary” to make the team as a captain’s pick.

As first rounds go, Harrington’s was pretty extraordinary. He leads The Barclays field by one. He matched the course record on the Black. He came home in 29. He made six birdies in an eight-hole stretch.

But someone not wholly impressed?

Olazabal.

Reminded of his comments two weeks ago, and informed of Harrington’s 64, the Spaniard was asked by reporters at the Johnnie Walker Championship what would constitute “extraordinary” now.

“At least a win,” he said, apparently with a smile.

At least a win?

What else would Paddy need to do? Dismantle the field by a dozen … while also saving endangered sea turtles?

Of course, Olazabal’s response wasn’t all that surprising. His strained relationship with Harrington dates to the 2003 Seve Trophy, and though an incident nine years ago probably shouldn’t influence current events, especially one of such import like the Ryder Cup, well, it appears it just might.

Said Harrington on Thursday, “I’m Irish, and being brought up in Ireland, we pay a lot of attention to bookmakers and their odds. I’m sure if I went and had a look at the odds, I would be a long shot to make the team.”