Harrington eager to prove his worth at Ryder Cup

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NEWPORT, WALES (AP) - Colin Montgomerie and Corey Pavin went all out trying to give their Ryder Cup teams that little extra push, an inspirational nudge that might make the difference between winning and losing at Celtic Manor.

At least one guy, however, didn’t need any more motivation.

Since being named to the European team as a captain’s pick, Padraig Harrington has endured the grumbling from those who thought a guy with three major titles wasn’t deserving of his spot _ certainly not ahead of Paul Casey and Justin Rose.

Harrington’s critics point out he hasn’t won a tournament in two years or a Ryder Cup match since 2004. Surely Montgomerie would have been better off picking Casey, ranked No. 7 in the world, or Rose, a two-time winner on the PGA Tour this summer.

Don’t try telling that to Monty, and don’t expect any apologies from Harrington.

“Defend myself? Yes. Apologize?” the Irishman said. “Yes.”

Montgomerie pointed to Harrington’s experience as one of the main factors he was seeking, especially on a team with six Ryder Cup rookies. No one else has a resume that includes two British Open titles and a PGA Championship.

“There’s no doubt Paul Casey and Justin Rose are good enough to be on our Ryder Cup team,” Harrington said. “It really just comes down to personal preference, the team captain, how he sees it. Thankfully, maybe with the balance of the team _ the six rookies and with the age profile of the team _ it certainly swung in my favor.”

Now he’s facing a burden unlike anything else in his career.

If the favored Europeans should lose on their home turf for the first time since 1993, the blame will likely fall squarely on Montgomerie for picking Harrington.

“It obviously puts you under a little bit more focus during the week, and brings certain expectations and certain pressure,” Harrington said. “So it’s certainly different. It definitely makes you more enthusiastic and keen to play your part and do everything you can among the team.”

Monty has no regrets.

“I know what Padraig Harrington can do, and that’s why he was picked,” Montgomerie said. “He’s a world player, he’s won three major championships, and the stature of the guy is second to none within our team.”

Besides, neither captain can juggle his lineup at this point.

What they can do is come up with something that might fire up their guys even more, such as Ben Crenshaw’s inspiring speech to the Americans the night before the historic comeback at Brookline.

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