Padraig Harrington has fallen hard since his last major win at Oakland Hills in the '08 PGA Championship. Now 93rd in the world ranking, the Irishman arrived at Pebble Beach with a cloud of doubt over his career.
He has just one win – on the Asian Tour in 2010 – since edging Sergio Garcia to win the Wanamaker Trophy in Detroit. This past August, he began working with swing coach Pete Cowen, after seeing Bob Torrance for 15 years.
The three-time major winner, however, has a clear focus this year: making the Ryder Cup team. At No. 34 on the European points list and No. 41 on the world points list, Harrington must play well to get where he wants – Chicago in October.
“It won't be a question of picking up five and six points and eight points; it'll have to be a question of winning some of those big points, which means winning,” he said Wednesday, realizing his only shot is to play his way onto Jose Maria Olazabal's team.
While he is in the majors, Harrington is not currently in the first two World Golf Championships – the match play in two weeks, nor Doral in March. The no-cut events offer free world-ranking points that he desperately needs. He already missed silly season events which, in silliness, also offer world ranking points.
“Some of those events you can turn up and finish last, and you get more points than say finishing 15th at a major. Those are the ones to be in to gather easy points,” he said. “But in my case, I'm obviously going to have to play very well all year, or at least for some of the year.”
If Harrington fails to make the team, he could still play a part on Olazabal's team. He would consider an invitation to help as an assistant captain, knowing full well that the experience will be important when his name is someday mentioned for the captaincy. While he would love the challenge, thinking about that seems premature to him.
“I don't have it on my radar at the moment. I'm hoping to play for numerous ones going forward. But yes, down the road I would like that challenge.”