Five-time Major winner Seve Ballesteros has backed Open champion Padraig Harrington to spearhead another European Ryder Cup victory.
Harrington confirmed his status as the continent’s leading player of recent years with a superb defence of the Claret Jug at Royal Birkdale last weekend. And Spanish great Ballesteros, who won the Open three times, says it is further proof Europe will retain the Ryder Cup in September.
“Padraig made mistakes like everyone else in the extremely difficult conditions, but fewer than most people,” said Ballesteros. “I felt over the four days he was the man hitting the ball best and had the toughest mental approach. He thoroughly deserved to win.
“It is a great thing for Ireland and for European golf. With the Ryder Cup just two months away, it is another reminder of the strength of European golf at the moment.”
Harrington looks certain to be part of Nick Faldo’s team, which will be aiming for a fourth successive win over the USA when they meet at Valhalla, Kentucky, in eight weeks’ time.
The Irishman’s Open victory saw him shoot to the top of the Ryder Cup points list, but Ian Poulter, who finished runner-up on Sunday, still has ground to make up.
Colin Montgomerie, Paul Casey and Luke Donald are also out of the reckoning on current form, but could compete if selected by Faldo as one of two wild card picks.