Steady Harrington knows he needs to step it up to make Ryder Cup team

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Padraig Harrington is hoping a rainy week at the Irish Open doesn't dampen his chances to play in Wales in October.
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PA Sport

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Padraig Harrington would be "gutted absolutely" and "devastated" if he was not part of Europe's team at the Ryder Cup in October.

With only five weeks left in the points race, the three-time major champion admits he is in a "very perilous" position down at 17th place. Yet things are so tight that if Harrington wins this week's 3 Irish Open -- and he considers his form good enough to do it -- he could move all the way up to sixth.

Nine players qualify automatically at the end of next month and then captain Colin Montgomerie adds three wild cards.

Newly-appointed vice-captain Darren Clarke says he cannot envisage Harrington missing out, but competition is fiercer than ever before. An amazing five players in the world's current top 25 -- Paul Casey (9), Edoardo Molinari (17), Justin Rose (18), Harrington (19) and Henrik Stenson (23) -- are in need of a wild card as things stand.

Rose has won twice in the United States recently, Casey and Stenson tied for third at the British Open and Molinari lifted the Scottish Open three weeks ago -- and won the World Cup with his brother Francesco, seventh in the standings, last November.

Harrington's last victory was the PGA Championship two years ago, but he was at great pains, with Clarke listening, to point out that in the past 12 months he has had no fewer than 14 top-10 finishes.

"I was asked the other day if I got selected would I actually pull out," he said. "The inference was 'would you pull out because you're not playing well?'. I've had more top-10s in the last year than I've ever had in my career, so going on a guideline that most people use I've actually had the best year of my career.

"I haven't won and that's certainly below my expectations and everybody else's expectations, but my form has actually been solid enough,” he added. "I just have to wait and let it happen. I do try to be very disciplined in doing my own thing and not being influenced by outside factors -- but clearly that one got to me."

The 38-year-old Dubliner is focusing all his energies on the next three weeks -- Ireland, the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Ohio and then the PGA Championship in Wisconsin -- and trying to make sure he doesn’t need to be picked. But, should he still not be certain after that, it remains to be seen if he would do as Montgomerie wants and change his schedule to play the race-ending Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles rather than the FedEx Cup playoff event the same week.

"My schedule is set to play in The Barclays at the moment, so I'm really hoping that I play well enough in the next three weeks that I don't have to think about not playing it," he said.

Harrington's chances of a wild card would certainly be improved if Montgomerie goes along with what Clarke clearly thinks.

Asked if he could see a scenario where his former teammate was left out, the Northern Irishman replied: "Personally I can't envisage that situation. But I'm not the captain!

"We all know how good a player Padraig is. It would be very difficult to see Padraig not being on that team in Wales,” he added. "It would be good to see him play really well and qualify and give Monty the extra choice of another pick. I think we would all like to see him qualify and we hope he does."