Padraig Harrington’s final bid to catch the eye of European Ryder Cup Captain José María Olazábal ahead of his wild card announcement got off to the perfect start with an opening seven under par 64 to take the early clubhouse lead in The Barclays.
Harrington cannot qualify for the team automatically, but Olazábal will undoubtedly be following his progress in New York ahead of naming his two wild cards to complete the 12-man team on Monday lunchtime.
The Irishman has been an ever present in the team since his debut in 1999 but it is now down to Olazábal to decide whether he has done enough to earn a place on the European team heading to Medinah Country Club, Chicago, next month looking to retain The Ryder Cup.
Only Nicolas Colsaerts can force his way into the automatic places in the final qualifying event at the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles, needing a top two finish to overtake Martin Kaymer, and with Ian Poulter a favourite for one of the picks, the battle for a place is reaching fever pitch.
Harrington is some way down the list in 19th place but the three-time Major Champion would bring a wealth of experience to the team, if he can do enough to swing the wild card decision in his favour. And he threw down the gauntlet on the opening morning by coming home in 29 strokes at Bethpage Black to set the early clubhouse target.
Olazábal will also have been pleased with his Ryder Cup charges already in the team with Sergio Garcia, who sealed his place with his win in the Wyndham Championship earlier this week, continuing his impressive form, birdieing the last for a five under par 66, Luke Donald returning a three under par 68 and Lee Westwood a 69, with Rory McIlroy on the same mark playing the last.