Harrington in a hurry

By Brian Keogh

Padraig Harrington has vowed to avoid Ryder Cup agony by wrapping his place for Valhalla in double quick time.

The Dubliner wants to see skipper Nick Faldo's famed competitive drive up close and personal at Valhalla in September.

And the Open champion knows he now has a great chance to rack up huge ranking points when he tees it up in the European Tour’s $2 million Ballantine's Championship in Korea this week.

Set for a run of four events in five weeks that will climax with the Masters at Augusta, Harrington said: "My attitude towards making the team is make it as early as possible so you are not thinking about it for the last two months.

"If you qualify for the team by the start of July, you get to enjoy watching everybody else sweating over qualifying.

"It is tough to play good golf when you are in that position and thinking about the Ryder Cup. I am going to try to make it on merit and leave it at that.

"I am personally looking forward to seeing Nick in a competitive situation. I really want to see him in a competitive environment and see what he is like and what I can learn from him.

"I think he will be a very good captain and will do everything in his power to have the best team there with everyone playing well on the week."

Harrington has predicted up to six rookies on Faldo's 12-man team in a major changing of the guard.

And with pals Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley languishing 234th and 194th in the world, he wants to make sure he's in Kentucky to help the new boys take on the Americans.

He added: "Europe's strength has always been the ability of experienced players to get the best out of the rookies. Sometimes the combination is better than the individuals and the combinations sometimes adds a spark.

"There is nothing better than an experiences guy bringing a rookie along. A rookie tends to often plays above himself. So it could make a stronger team.

"All things have to move on and progress and move on and maybe our team is a team in transition.

"Some of the household names, some of the more experienced players are maybe drifting out of form and there will be new players coming in.

"You should have the best players out there and they guys who qualify, whether they are rookies or not, are the best players.”

Despite finishing tied for 10th in the Maybank Malaysian Open on Sunday, Clarke is 54th in the European Ryder Cup Points list with McGinley down to 44th after missing his second cut in a row.

Harrington is 13th in the race for one of 10 automatic places and he can make a big move up the rankings over the next month.

While he skips next week's WGC CA Championship at Doral, he will get two warm-up events before the Masters in New Orleans and Houston on the PGA Tour.

He said: "The world points gives the international players a chance and the European points list gives guys who are based on the European tour a chance to play their 25 or 26 events to get in. Our system is very fair and two pick are enough."

Europe has won five of the last six Ryder Cups and Harrington knows that US skipper Paul Azinger is desperate to change that trend after revamping the American qualifying system.

Azinger now has four picks instead of two and brought in grizzled veterans Ray Floyd and Dave Stockton as assistants.

Harrington said: "He wants to win this dearly and that is good. We have to use that as motivation for us to be strong that week and to be as competitive and want to win it as much as he clearly wants to."