Harrington benefits from European strength

Paul McGinley and Padraig Harrington go back a long, long way. Ryder Cup vice-captain Paul McGinley insists that close pal Padraig Harrington is not guaranteed five games at Celtic Manor in October.

Harrington was a controversial wildcard choice by skipper Colin Montgomerie, who overlooked Paul Casey and Justin Rose in favour of the Dubliner, Edoardo Molinari and Luke Donald.

And McGinley reckons the strength and depth in the European side means that Monty may be able to bench Harrington once or twice.

Commenting on the make-up of Monty’s side, McGinley said: “The great thing that we have in our 12 players is that there is such strength in depth in the one to twelve.

“We don’t have to rely on three or four players as we have done in the past.

“There’s going to be a situation there where we’ll rest some of our top players during the week because we’re so strong from one to twelve.

“We won’t have to rely on Padraig so much.”

Montgomerie has come in for stern criticism in some quarters for leaving out world No 8 Casey and 2008 hero Rose, who has won twice in the US this season.

But McGinley backed the decision to pick Harrington for his experience and intimidation factor.

He said: “It was obviously a very difficult decision to make when you’ve so many world class players all having very good, strong years, looking for a pick and you’ve only got three picks.

“Some top players are going to have to be left out. They haven’t qualified for the team and that’s why we’re in that predicament.

“Padraig was obviously looking for a pick, he was very close to qualifying but his pedigree is so good.

“I’ve been fortunate enough to play Ryder Cup matches with him and so has Monty and we both felt that he warranted a pick.”

McGinley denied that politics played a role in the wildcard choices as the “FedEx Four” of Casey, Rose, Harrington and Donald all opted to snub the final qualifying event in Scotland in favour of the megabucks US Tour play-offs.

McGinley said: “We weren’t making any political statements here. Our brief was to pick a team that we felt is going to be capable of winning the Ryder Cup for Europe.”