Pod - Nick must pick Clarke
Padraig Harrington feels Darren Clarke should be a certainty for a wildcard pick and has also pushed Colin Montgomerie's claims.
Last Updated: 03/09/08 3:02pm
Padraig Harrington feels Darren Clarke should be a certainty for one of Nick Faldo's two wildcard berths and feels Colin Montgomerie also deserves serious consideration from the European Ryder Cup captain.
The race for the remaining spots on Faldo's team reaches its climax this weekend with three places still on offer through automatic qualification as well as the two captain's picks.
Six players (Justin Rose, Soren Hansen, Oliver Wilson, Nick Dougherty, Martin Kaymer and Ross Fisher) are vying for the three automatic places, but it is the race for the wildcards that has got everybody talking.
It now appears likely that four men are fighting it out for the two places; Paul Casey, Darren Clarke, Colin Montgomerie and Ian Poulter.
Many view Casey as a shoo-in for one of the spots, while Poulter sparked speculation he had 'got the nod' from Faldo after pulling out of the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles this week - thus spurning his final opportunity to play himself on by right.
However, Harrington - who pushed Poulter into second at the Open Championship - cannot see beyond Clarke who has hit form at precisely the right time after his emphatic win in Holland last week.
"I don't see how you couldn't pick Clarke," stated the Dubliner. "He's won twice this year, his form has been very good in recent weeks and he's played on five Ryder Cups and had four winning teams. And he's a natural partner to Lee Westwood.
"If you had everybody picking, I think Clarke would be a lock, but obviously Nick could see different reasons. But if I was picking, I'd be picking Darren.
"Darren carries stature into the Ryder Cup, which is very important. When you tee it up on the first tee, you want your opposition standing there and feeling that they're coming up against somebody who has a bit of stature. Darren has that, and Monty has that too."
Casey, Poulter and Clarke all seem to have stronger claims than the out-of-form Montgomerie, but Harrington is adamant the Scot's superb record in the match should count heavily in his favour.
Since making his debut in 1991, Monty has played in each of the last eight contests against America and has yet to lose in singles competition.
Recognition for Monty
While he has struggled this season, Harrington feels his past exploits merit recognition - especially if the 45-year-old enjoys a good week at Gleneagles.
"The guy (Montgomerie) has played eight Ryder cups, has never lost a singles match, and he's due a consideration," the Dubliner continued.
"My opinion is that until he loses a singles match maybe he should be given a chance.
"It could all change this week. Two months ago, you would have picked Monty. Paul Casey has had a very solid two months, and two months ago Ian Poulter finished second at the Open.
"You've got four players playing for two spots. All four have a case for being picked. It's going to be tough and two guys are going to be unhappy.
"The fact they haven't played their way in, if they don't get picked they can't complain."