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Page last updated at 19:55 GMT, Saturday, 20 September 2008 20:55 UK

Off-form Harrington 'needed' rest

37th Ryder Cup - USA v Europe
Venue: Valhalla, Kentucky Date: 19-21 September Coverage: Daily highlights on BBC TV and BBC Sport website, Live on BBC Radio 5 Live and Sky Sports and updates/commentary on Red Button and BBC Sport website


Padraig Harrington
Harrington has not won a Ryder Cup match since beating Jay Haas in 2004

European star Padraig Harrington admitted he needed to be rested from Saturday afternoon's Ryder Cup fourballs against the United States.

The three-time major winner has failed to hit top form in Valhalla, winning just a half from his three matches.

"I think I needed a rest," said Harrington, who has not won any of his last eight Ryder Cup games.

"I worked really hard over the 53 holes I played and I was a little bit off my game. It does take a lot out of you."

Harrington, this year's Open and USPGA champion, was not the only star player to sit out part of the action on Saturday.

Skipper Nick Faldo took the bold decision to rest Lee Westwood and Sergio Garcia - his two most experienced Ryder Cup players - from the morning foursomes.

Westwood, who had played 27 matches in a row, sat out because of blisters while Garcia, a 22-game veteran, was feeling fatigued following an illness last week.

It did not seem to matter though as Europe, boosted by a superb victory from debutant Oliver Wilson and Henrik Stenson over Phil Mickelson and Anthony Kim, battled back from 5½-2½ down to end the third session 7-5 behind.

I knew if Ian had something to prove this week, he was going to prove it

Justin Rose on Ian Poulter

"Because we did rest two guys, one who has not lost in 12 matches (Westwood) and one who has not lost a foursomes match ever (Garcia) we needed a big morning and we got it," said Harrington, who suffered Europe's only defeat in the second round of foursomes.

Faldo's team selections have come under scrutiny ever since he controversially picked Poulter as one of his two wildcards ahead of Ryder Cup veterans Darren Clarke and Colin Montgomerie.

But Poulter, together with fellow Englishman Justin Rose, have been the star European pairing so far - winning two of the three games they have played.

And Rose believes that Poulter's performances in Kentucky have proved the critics wrong.

"I think Ian was under a lot of pressure this week, but in some ways that doesn't faze him," added Rose, who asked to be rested from Saturday afternoon's fourballs to receive treatment on a minor wrist injury.

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"I think the loss that we had the first day hurt us both because I think he sensed that had we got that first win, he would have been into the Ryder Cup and justified his place in the team immediately.

"I think he was very conscious of the fact that he needed to go out there and produce this week, otherwise he would have been in for a lot of criticism. But that's the kind of player he is.

"I knew if Ian had something to prove this week, he was going to prove it.

"He's justified his place on this team. And he's done that not just on the golf course but also in the team room. The guys do embrace him. He's a good laugh, he leads the banter and he's a valuable team member."



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see also
US increase Ryder Cup advantage
20 Sep 08 |  Golf
Europe launch Ryder Cup fightback
20 Sep 08 |  Golf
Ryder Cup day two as it happened
20 Sep 08 |  Golf
Ryder Cup day two photos
20 Sep 08 |  Golf
Faldo omits Garcia and Westwood
20 Sep 08 |  Golf
Louisville Lip
17 Sep 08 |  Golf
US surge clear as Europe struggle
19 Sep 08 |  Golf
US hit back to snatch Ryder lead
19 Sep 08 |  Golf
What makes a good Cup pairing?
19 Sep 08 |  Golf
Valhalla in good voice
19 Sep 08 |  Golf
Ryder Cup explained
16 Sep 08 |  Golf
Golf on the BBC
01 Jul 11 |  Golf


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