Pádraig Harrington has history with the Spanish Armada and it appears it could come back to sink his Ryder Cup wildcard hopes this week.
While he says he has a “good relationship” with European Ryder Cup skipper José María Olazábal, many recall their public falling during the 2003 Seve Trophy at El Saler.
Whether or not Olazábal still guards any resentment is not public knowledge but Sergio Garia, who lost majors to Harrington in 2007 and 2008, is certainly no big fan. (Both Harrington and Garcia have spoken of their differences over the years.)
When asked on the eve of The Barclays if the “bad blood” between Olazábal and Harrington regarding the Seve Trophy row could see him overlooked for a wildcard even if he was playing better than another potential pick, the man from Borriol did little to offer the Dubliner any hope at all.
Asked what he thought about Europe possibly not putting out its best team, Garcia said: “I am sure José is going to pick whoever he thinks is best for the team. I don’t know if that includes Harrington or not. So we’ll see.
“I know José will do the best thing for the team and if that includes Harrington, that will be fine. If not, there are a lot of other guys who are playing very, very well too.
“I don’t think he’s a sure pick personally. He wouldn’t be a sure pick for me!”
It is difficult - though not impossible - to imagine that Olazábal would allow a personal vendetta to cloud his judgement but Charlie Mulqueen’s breakdown on the 2003 row in last week’s Irish Examiner does not make light reading for anyone in the Harrington camp:
In a crucial singles on that fateful day at El Saler, Harrington wanted the referee to rule whether Olazabal was allowed to repair two pitch marks on the line of his eight-foot putt on the third green. While Harrington looked around for the referee to intervene, Olazabal went ahead anyway and did his repair work. And when Harrington mentioned it before continuing with his own putt, Olazabal, feeling his integrity was being questioned, conceded the hole and marched to the next tee.
Harrington insisted that was not the case but the Spaniard wasn’t listening. The remaining 15 holes were played in stony silence as the incident festered. And despite the efforts of Harrington to appease the situation, Olazabal stiffly refused to accept his explanation.
It didn’t help that Harrington forced a half point from their match on the final green with a four-foot birdie putt, enough for Britain and Ireland to retain the trophy 15-13.
For around 15 minutes beside the 18th green, the pair were locked in animated conversation.
Olazabal refused to accept all efforts — including those by captains Seve Ballesteros and Montgomerie — to secure a peaceful settlement.
Harrington later said: “It’s not worth losing a friend over but we had 15 very awkward holes. I was not trying to question his integrity but that’s what he thought and I can 100% see his side.
“I certainly won’t be celebrating tonight and it’s not the way I would have liked to get a half.”
All Olazabal would say was: “We had a difference of opinion and I’m not going to waste any more time talking about it.”
Given the situation, it would appear that Harrington must do what his old adversary Sergio Garcia did last week and win the tournament if he is to have even the slightest chances of a captain’s pick.
Garcia brilliantly played his way into the side by winning the Wyndham Championship but Harrington might just have to settle for the money and the FedEx Cup points instead of a seventh cap.