Padraig Harrington is refusing to underestimate Tiger Woods heading into next month’s Ryder Cup, insisting that the American retains an “intimidation factor” despite his lack of success this year.
The No. 1-ranked Woods only made it onto the United States team after receiving a wild card from Captain Corey Pavin and has not won a tournament this year.
“In many ways the Ryder Cup could be the pinnacle of his year,” Harrington said Friday. “Definitely he’ll be in a fighting mood for the week -- a mood to perform.”
Woods has been on the winning side only once at a Ryder Cup, in 1999, and has earned just 11 points from a possible 25 in five appearances. The 14-time major winner missed the U.S. victory over Europe in Valhalla in 2008 with a knee injury.
“He’s coming into this Ryder Cup not having succeeded and achieved a lot of his goals this year,” Harrington said. “He’s coming in thinking, ‘I want to play well in this Ryder Cup to make me have a successful year.’
“He is the No.1 golfer in the world still by rankings,” Harrington added. “He has a presence -- an intimidation factor.”
Harrington also had to rely on a captain’s pick to make the Oct. 1-3 match at Celtic Manor, Wales. Europe Captain Colin Montgomerie said he could not go into the match without the three-time major champion, and said the experienced Harrington was someone “we feel that nobody in match-play golf wants to play.”
Others regard Harrington as a controversial pick who was fortunate to have been given the nod ahead of No. 7-ranked Paul Casey, having only won half a point from a possible four in 2008. He had the same total in 2006 from five matches.
“When you get picked, you are under the spotlight more,” said Harrington, who is without a tour win in more than two years. “You have something to prove, in many ways you’re trying to justify it.
“There’s definitely more pressure, but pressure brings a bit more adrenaline, more nerves, more focus. I’m trying to hold myself back and I’m excited about getting into it.”