In taking the first-round lead at the Barclays on Thursday, Padraig Harrington not only upstaged Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods, he put himself squarely in the media crosshairs.
The Irishman is "on the bubble" for selection to the Ryder Cup team with one intriguing subplot: He and European captain Jose Maria Olazabal of Spain aren't exactly friends.
Their enmity stems from an incident in the 2003 Seve Trophy team competition. Facing each other in singles, Olazabal fixed two imperfections on the third green in the line of his putt. He contended they were ball marks. Harrington wasn't sure, summoning a rules official.
Irritated that his integrity was questioned, Olazabal angrily conceded the hole, then said nothing the rest of the round. The match ultimately was halved, clinching the trophy for the British Isles team.
Nine years have done little to ease the tension. When Olazabal was asked Thursday to comment on what Harrington would have to do to be selected, he said curtly, "at least a win."
Olazabal will announce his selections Monday. The front-runners are Ian Poulter and Nicolas Colsaerts. Ignoring three-time major champion Harrington after he captured an elite-field FedEx Cup event would open Olazabal to criticism.
"I don't know where I sit. Or maybe I do," Harrington told reporters with a wry smile amid laughter. "I'm not really going to get into and discuss because I'm either going to do one of two things: I'm either going to look like I'm pleading or I'm going to look like I'm incriminating myself, one or the other."
- Kevin Dunleavy