Harrington makes case for Ryder Cup pick, opens with 64 at Bethpage
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Harrington makes case for Ryder Cup pick, opens with 64 at Bethpage

Padraig Harrington can only make the European Ryder Cup team if captain Jose Maria Olazabal selects the Irishman with one of his two wild-card picks.

Harrington made a statement on Day 1 of The Barclays at Bethpage Black, shooting 64 on Long Island to take the early lead in the FedEx Cup playoff opener.

The 7-under round was better than Nick Watney, Gary Christian and Brian Harman by a shot to lead the morning wave.

Harrington started out slowly, playing conservatively as he did in the U.S. Opens at Bethpage in 2002 and '09. Once playing partner Troy Matteson made an eagle at the par-5 fourth hole, Harrington got into gear.

"So you have to get out of that mindset because level par isn't winning the tournament this week," Harrington said. "It isn't a U.S. Open. It isn't going to be like that. It's a big, strong golf course, but it's set up nicely.  You have to get into the mindset that you've got to make some birdies."

At the PGA Championship, Olazabal was reluctant to endorse the notion of picking Harrington, saying the three-time major winner would have to do something special at Kiawah Island. Harrington played well, finishing T-18, but the implication was clear: that was not good enough.

If Harrington can build upon his start, continue to contend, or maybe even win, it would be difficult for Olazabal to pass over him - even if Nicolas Colsaerts comes up just shy of making the team on points across the Atlantic at the Johnnie Walker Championship.

Harrington pled the Fifth (Amendment, that is) when asked if he thought this round, and a good week, would land him a spot at Medinah on the European side.

"I honestly don't know what to say," he said. "I don't want to go in there and try too desperately to beg for a pick, or I don't want to go in there and give excuses for anything. I'll just leave it be what it is. I'm just going to play golf. "

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Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for over a decade, working for NBC Sports, Golf Channel, Yahoo Sports and SB Nation. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He used to be a good golfer.

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