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Padraig Harrington not ruling out chance of Ryder Cup return

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GULLANE, Scotland — Padraig Harrington is not ruling out the idea of playing in another Ryder Cup, even at age 51, depending on how he fares in his two weeks against the world’s best players.

That hope was emboldened Friday in the Scottish Open after a 4-under 66 at The Renaissance Club, leaving him two shots off the early pace set by Tyrrell Hatton and Tom Kim.

Harrington said European captain Luke Donald called him after he won two weeks ago on the PGA Tour Champions to say he was watching. But the Irishman doesn’t believe his performance on the 50-and-older circuit should be considered.

His measure is the Scottish Open and The Open Championship next week at Royal Liverpool.

“I’ve got these two events. I’ll see at the end of those,” Harrington said. “I’ll talk to Luke, see where I stand. If necessary, I will change my schedule. I’m meant to play a few Champions tour events in the middle of the summer. But I will change and come back and play European tour events if I have a genuine chance.”

Harrington was captain two years ago at Whistling Straits, where a young American team that played to its potential handed an aging European team its worst loss ever in the Ryder Cup.

Raymond Floyd in 1993 and Jay Haas in 2004 are the only players over 50 to play in a Ryder Cup, and it’s a long shot for Harrington to even be considered. But he hasn’t ruled it out.

Harrington finished fourth in Abu Dhabi on the European tour at the start of the year. He has made the cut in all five PGA Tour events he has played, most recently a tie for 27th in the U.S. Open at Los Angeles Country Club.

“It’s how I play in Scotland and how I play The Open that will determine everything,” he said. “It does put me under quite a bit of pressure coming in here because I know if I don’t perform these two weeks, it’s the end of that.

“If I don’t have two good weeks, I’m not going back (to Europe). I’m going to play the Champions tour,” he said. “Two average weeks, I don’t know where that leaves me. If I have two good weeks, that obviously says something.”

Europe has lost experience from so many players going to LIV Golf — Sergio Garcia, Thomas Pieters, Ian Poulter, Paul Casey — some of them giving up European tour membership and thus being ineligible.

Harrington doesn’t see that alone as creating an opportunity for him. He likes the way top Europeans are playing and how younger players are starting to emerge.

“I don’t think they’re scrambling to need me on the team,” he said.

But he says he is physically capable of competing against the best — his last win outside the PGA Tour Champions was the Portugal Masters in 2016 — as long as his head is in the right place. That’s why he skipped a senior major this week at Firestone Country Club in Ohio.

“I still think I’m a serious player. I see some good things,” he said. “Honestly, if I never hit the ball any better than I did the last two days, then I’d be happy. I wouldn’t be changing anything from the last two days. All that means is you get the right break here or there, hole the right putt, I’d be right there in contention any week.”

For now, it’s about getting to Sunday in Scotland. Harrington always said his goal was to get to the back nine on Sunday with a chance and see where it takes him.

“So let’s see what the next 27 holes brings,” he said.

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