LONDON (Reuters) - Tiger Woods will go out with all guns blazing at next month’s Ryder Cup to try to make amends for a mediocre season, triple major champion Padraig Harrington said on Friday.
The world number one has had a troubled year on and off the course and is still waiting for his first tournament victory of 2010.
“The Ryder Cup could be the pinnacle of his year, like it could be for me,” said Harrington of his fellow wildcard pick. “He will be in a fighting mood for the week, in a mood to perform.
“At the last one in 2008 I was a bit burned out ... but going into this one Tiger’s not going to be that way and I’m not going to be that way,” said the Irishman in a conference call with reporters.
“He’s not coming into this Ryder Cup having achieved a lot of his goals this year and he’s probably thinking, ‘I want to play well to make it a successful year’.”
Neither player qualified automatically for the October 1-3 match at Celtic Manor in Wales. Harrington relied on a wildcard selection from European captain Colin Montgomerie and Woods was chosen by U.S. skipper Corey Pavin.
Asked whether he would have picked Woods, the Irishman replied: “Yes, 100 percent, absolutely -- he is the number one golfer in the world and he’s been showing good form of late.
“He has a presence and intimidation factor. Matchplay will suit him.
“I think he’s going to be strong enough to stand up on the tee box against anybody. Certainly no bookmaker will make him a longshot in his singles match.”
Harrington, who won the British Open in 2007 and 2008 and the U.S. PGA Championship two years ago, said Woods had often found it hard to come to terms with the special circumstances surrounding a Ryder Cup.
“In previous Ryder Cups Tiger has struggled with the structure of the event,” said the 39-year-old Dubliner who has gone two years without a victory.
“Playing a practice round at 11 o’clock in the morning, I don’t think he’s ever done that in his life. Normally he’s out at 6 o’clock and by 11 he’s out of there and off the golf course.
“There are a lot of things at a Ryder Cup that don’t fit into Tiger’s normal schedule. But having got a pick this year he might feel a bit like me and turn round and say, ‘What do you need me to do?’ ... and be much more focused on the team.”
Harrington said he had learned harsh lessons from failing to earn an automatic spot in Montgomerie’s team.
“I regret my schedule big time,” he said. “I focused on the world rankings, assuming I was going to have a bumper year.
“My schedule was poor. If you want to make the team you need to play more. Next time round I’ll be looking at making the top nine money winners.”
Harrington, who has played in the team event on five previous occasions, said he felt obliged to give something extra to the team as a wildcard choice.
“When you go in as a pick you have got more to prove and in many ways you are trying to justify it,” he said. “I definitely feel under more pressure.
“Last time I had won a couple of majors ... and I really struggled to get back up for the Ryder Cup.
“It’s the opposite this year. I’m hoping to be at my peak.”
Editing by Ed Osmond
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.