Paul McGinley reckons Padraig Harrington has the game and the guts to deny Tiger Woods the $10m FedExCup jackpot and future majors.

McGinley and Harrington after their World Cup success of 1997But the battling Dubliner is more worried about recovering from golfing “hell” so that he will have enough credibility with the young guns to land the European Ryder Cup captaincy at Gleneagles in 2014.

After his fifth top 10 in a row in Chicago on Sunday, sixth ranked Harrington can still land the megabucks FedExCup pay-off if he wins the Tour Championship in Atlanta and points leader Woods finishes worse than second.

But McGinley knows his old pal can keep up his end of the deal after proving over the past few years that he is the real world No 2.

McGinley said: “There is no doubt that Padraig is Tiger’s biggest rival now and Tiger is well aware that he has a battle on his hands, believe me.

“People always talking about Padraig overachieving in the game. But nobody in the world has his talent to chip and putt.

“Only Tiger comes close to Padraig in terms of the short game and that’s why he is so competitive. Padraig’s short game is absolutely phenomenal.”

Harrington’s fifth top-10 on the trot in Sunday’s BMW Championship boosted him to eighth in the world.

But world No 214 McGinley confessed during a company day for Allianz at The K Club on Monday that he is too embarrassed even to look up his own world ranking.

Set to turn 43 in December, he knows he has to battle his way back to form if he is to become a viable contender for the Ryder Cup captaincy at Gleneagles in 2014.

McGinley said: “I am embarrassed to look at the world rankings and I don’t want to know. I know I am way down and I have got to claw my way back.

“I am not going to sit here and paint a rosy picture of the last year. It’s been hell.  It’s been horrible - my toughest year ever on tour. But I feel like I am getting back.”

McGinley is being groomed for the Ryder Cup captaincy and he will take his first step down that road next week when he skippers Great Britain and Ireland against Thomas Bjorn’s red-hot Continental Europeans in the Seve Trophy (now the Vivendi Trophy) in Paris.

He hasn’t given up hope of earning a fourth Ryder Cup cap in Wales next year but he admits that his lowly world ranking and subsequent absence from the majors and world golf championships means it will be miracle if makes the 2010 side automatically.

Believing the best he can hope for is a wild card from skipper Colin Montgomerie, he said: “It is not a realistic goal to make that Ryder Cup team. I am going to miss $50m in prize money that the other guys can play for.

“Being realistic my best chance of making the team is through getting a pick and being really high up the order of merit and competing at a really high level for the next 12 months. If I do that I think I will have a very strong grounds for a pick.”

Montgomerie is certain to name McGinley as one of his vice-captains in Wales if the Dubliner fails to qualify.

But McGinley knows that his chances of becoming Ireland’s first Ryder Cup captain in Scotland in four years’ time depend on him earning the respect of the current team by staying competitive.

He said: “If Jose Maria Olazabal wants it, he is surely going to be the next Ryder Cup captain in America in 2012.

“Me or Thomas Bjorn in 2014? That’s in theory. The Ryder Cup committee believes it is very important to have a captain who is still competitive on the tour.

“So if you are looking at me being captain in Scotland, the question is this - Will I still be competitive on tour then? Certainly not the way I have played this year.

“I am going to be 46 in four years time. How many guys are on tour at 46 years of age and still competitive? You can count them on two or three fingers, never mind one hand.

“I certainly don’t want to cling on, cling on, just for the sake of being Ryder Cup captain. I will only cling on if I still feel I can be competitive and I still think I can.”