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Thursday, 23 August 2012
Jose Maria Olazabal   (Getty Images)
Jose Maria Olazabal (Getty Images)
Ryder Cup Captain José María Olazábal gave an instant reaction in Scotland to Padraig Harrington scoring a 64 in America - and it should leave the Irishman in no doubt where he stands.

The Irish star is fighting to be among the candidates for a wild card on Monday, but it is how he finishes the first of the FedEx Cup play-off events that appears far more important than how he starts it.

Olazábal was reminded that two weeks ago he said Harrington needed to do something extraordinary to make the side.

So what now constitutes extraordinary? "At least a win," Olazábal replied with a smile.

He was speaking at Gleneagles, where Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts needs a top-two finish to earn himself a Cup debut and is two off the lead following an opening three under par 69.

Colsaerts, thought to be in with a great chance of being picked along with the widely-tipped Ian Poulter if he fails in his bid for an automatic spot in the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles, was delighted with his day's work.

"It was exactly the day I wanted, being in control of what I was doing," the 29 year old Volvo World Match Play Champion said.

"I'm very pleased with how I handled myself."

He also pleased watching Ryder Cup assistant captain Thomas Björn, who was paired with him for the first two rounds and kicked off his defence of the title with a 70.

"I can see what he's capable of," Björn said. "I don't think it comes as a surprise - I think we all know what Nicolas can do.

"He needs to keep doing what he's doing and get a good week out of it. He's in good form and you can see that his confidence is high.

"Even when he gets himself in trouble he gets out of it decent and that's the sign of somebody that has all the things at the moment going in the right direction."

On Colsaerts' round, Olazábal said: "It's a solid start. He still has work to do and we will see what he does."

He also commented on the absence from the event of Martin Kaymer, who is under threat at tenth in the points table, but opened the door to Colsaerts by taking the week off.

Should the German drop into a position where he too requires a wild card, Olazábal insists he will not hold it against him that he missed the final week of the race.

"It won't count against him. I've always made that clear."

Colsaerts had an early bogey, but then produced five birdies in seven holes around the turn and also sank a 20 foot putt for par during that run.

He led on his own for a while, but missed a three foot par putt at the seventh - his 15th - and could not add to his birdie tally in the last eight holes.

As for Harrington, who came home in 29 to set the early pace at The Barclays, he said: "I've been playing well for quite a while, but this is the best I've putted.

"I don't want to go in there and try too desperately to beg for a pick. I'll just leave it be what it is - I'm just going to play golf."

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