Pádraig Harrington: “The First Priority Is The Ryder Cup.”

Pádraig Harrington

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Pádraig Harrington is ready to tee-off on the first round of the Irish Open on Thursday but his long-term plans are bigger.

The Open is on the 49-year-old’s mind but so is the Ryder Cup, which gets closer and closer every week.

The Ryder Cup captain announced his third and fourth vice-captain choices last week with Graeme McDowell and Martin Kaymer earning the same honour as Robert Karlsson and Luke Donald.

“The first priority is the Ryder Cup,” said Harrington.

Sergio Garcia and Ian Poulter have been two golfers that the three-time major champion has praised publicly.

Harrington feels that their Ryder Cup records mean that they should be held in high regard when it is time to select his team.

He also named Martin Kaymer as another example of a player with an impressive history as a Ryder Cup golfer.

However, the captain also understands that the future is coming fast with recent wins from Jon Rahm and Viktor Novland solidifying the need to take note of the younger golfers too.

But the best possible way of impressing Harrington, regardless of age, is with your performances.

“Wherever [players] play, I want to see them play well…the best possible way of impressing me is playing good golf.”

As for the more immediate events on his planner – the Irish Open and The Open Championship – the golfer is confident and working on his mental game, which he said is a good sign.

He credited Mount Juliet as a great golf course with great greens and hopes to be very stressed when he’s on the back nine on Sunday.

The 2007 Irish Open winner does expect a great weekend in Kilkenny with a limited amount of fans present to see the golfers play.

“I think all the players will appreciate the limited fans.”

The Open begins two weeks from now and is something Harrington has his eye on after his impressive performance at the PGA Championship, where he was tied for fourth with Shane Lowry.

He felt that the conditions in South Carolina helped him to perform well, likening it to a links course which is what the Royal St George course is.

Given the right scenario, Harrington feels he could impress at Sandwich as he is used to links courses.

“Given the right conditions and the right golf course, I can be very competitive with the game I have.”

The idea of winning a major again is what gets the World number 155 up in the morning, adding that it gives him a unique buzz compared to the thought of winning non-major tournaments.

However, that does not mean the veteran golfer can not get excited for the other tournaments.

Harrington noted that Jack Nicklaus noticed he was at the tail-end of his career when he lost that feeling of excitement before every tournament, and that he still has that feeling.

This week is exciting for him but feels different to many others as he prepares to begin the quest for the title, as others have agreed with him on.

“We do feel like it’s special this week.”

Irish Open tee times and TV details are available here.

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