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Page last updated at 23:03 GMT, Monday, 15 September 2008 00:03 UK

Harrington savours vital Cup role

Padraig Harrington
The focused Harrington has won three majors in the last two years

Open champion Padraig Harrington is relishing the role of one of Europe's leading players at the Ryder Cup.

The 37-year-old won just half a point from five matches at the K Club in 2006 but has since lifted three major titles - two Open Championships and the USPGA.

"Nick (Faldo) put great emphasis on me, Lee (Westwood) and Sergio (Garcia) and I expect it," the Irishman said.

"I'm one of the older guys, I have to stand up now. I'm comfortable in trying to play a leading position."

Faldo captains a side with six changes from Ireland, including the loss of influential figures Colin Montgomerie and Darren Clarke.

And Harrington, the highest ranked European at number four, insists he is ready to take on more responsibility and provide support for Ryder Cup rookies Graeme McDowell, Justin Rose, Soren Hansen and Oliver Wilson.

"The last Ryder Cups I have been leading player in the world rankings and qualification but there is a void with Monty missing," said Harrington, who has a Cup record of seven wins, eight losses and two halves.

BBC Sport's Rob Hodgetts

"Going into World Cups I've been in this position and I like that. I will let those players who look up to me come to me for advice and I'm happy to give it, but I'm not necessarily going to be pontificating to the team about how it should be done.

"I believe the right words said at the right time can be a huge advantage to the team as a whole. I'm comfortable helping guys out.

"I'm not like Monty, put him out number one and he will puff his chest out and he is a better player for it. Put me out one or 12 and I think I will be the exact same person. Monty out number two would never have played the same as if he was number one. I don't rely on being in that leading role to build up my game."

Harrington is the second most experienced member of the team (along with Garcia) after Westwood and believes his recent successes will increase the pressure on the home side.

"It's a very positive thing in a match play situation when anything puts a bit more pressure on them (the opposition)."

BBC Sport's Iain Carter
Harrington, who was a rookie nine years ago, said he would welcome a repeat of the "electric" atmosphere he experienced during the controversial defeat at Brookline in 1999.

He added: "I am actually looking forward to it. I never really got the spark I needed at the K Club.

"At Brookline the atmosphere was electric, the most exciting I've ever experienced. I would like to be back in that same situation again, for the good and the bad of it.

"I hope the US side put on a great show for us. To be part of that excitement is unbelievable. It could be one of the most exciting Ryder Cups for a long time."

see also
Ryder Cup build-up photos
15 Sep 08 |  Golf
Ryder Cup explained
16 Sep 08 |  Golf

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