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Harrington ready for 'opportunity of a lifetime' in Rio

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SPRINGFIELD, N.J. – Unlike a few of his counterparts, Padraig Harrington is ready for the Olympics. In fact, he’s pretty excited.

Harrington wasn’t on the Rio radar as of a few months ago, but after the Zika-related withdrawals of Rory McIlroy, Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell, the 44-year-old moved into position to represent Ireland in the first Olympic golf competition since 1904.

“It’s the opportunity of a lifetime,” Harrington said.

Perhaps buoyed by his change in summer travel plans, Harrington played his way onto the leaderboard during the third round of the PGA Championship, carding a bogey-free 65 before storms rolled in and halted play at Baltusrol Golf Club. At 4 under, the 2008 PGA champ sits five shots off the lead.

While that gap will likely widen before Harrington begins his final round, he still relishes the opportunity to compete against the game’s best in a major and, in this case, hopefully rack up some FedEx Cup points.

Harrington entered the week at No. 140 in the points race, and while his card for next season is secure thanks to his win at the 2015 Honda Classic, a strong finish could go a long way toward boosting his postseason hopes.

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“I’m in a nice position. I just want to play good golf,” he said. “I know what I need to do to push up in the FedEx Cup. I haven’t really played that much over here in three months. You can go all the way back to San Antonio (T-25) when I really got any points, so it’s been a long time.”

After playing next week in the Travelers Championship, Harrington will put his FedEx Cup aspirations on hold to head down to Brazil for the Olympics. It’s a family affair for the Harringtons, as he plans to stay for the entire second week of events after the men’s golf competition concludes.

According to Harrington, the goal is to attend at least two sporting events per day during his “week’s holiday” in Rio, with his wish list ranging from table tennis to cycling and gymnastics.

“I’m really keen on it. My whole family is keen on it,” he said. “Whenever you’re watching a sport where people are literally, how can I put it, it means everything to them. The pain of losing is exceptional. The joy of winning, it’s right there on the line.

“I’d watch anything in those circumstances, and obviously the Olympics is the pinnacle of it all being on the line. You get one chance, and that’s it.”