LONDON (AP) — Padraig Harrington is refusing to underestimate Tiger Woods heading into next month’s Ryder Cup, insisting 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 by 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.”