Padraig Harrington hoping Ireland can power their way to Olympic glory

Padraig Harrington
Padraig Harrington

Until recently, Padraig Harrington would have struggled to pick Seamus Power out of a line-up, but the three-time major winner would now like nothing more than to battle his team-mate for Olympic glory.

Neither man was first choice for Ireland with world number four Rory McIlroy, Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell ahead of them in the pecking order.

But with McIlroy and Lowry citing concerns about the Zika virus and McDowell staying home as his wife is due to give birth to their second child, Harrington and Power find themselves competing in Rio as golf returns to the Games after a 112-year absence.

“I know of Seamus, but if I bumped into him here I wouldn’t know who he was,” Harrington said during last month’s French Open.

“I had a look at his performances over the last two years and he’s been playing really nice golf - very consistent, a lot of top-10, top-20s. It looks like the guy can play, that’s for sure.

“I know it’s not a team event, but I’d be hoping that the two of us have a chance coming down the last nine holes. At that stage it’s all for yourself, but up until that point I’d be delighted if the two of us are five shots clear of the field on Sunday. That’s the way you look at these things.”

Power is currently ninth on the money list on the second-tier Tour, with the top 25 at the end of the season earning a card for the PGA Tour.

The 29-year-old from Waterford had understandably not given the Olympics much thought, until a phone call from Irish captain Paul McGinley in June.

“Paul calls me out of the blue,” Power told Golfweek. “He’s like, Rory is going to announce that he’s out, and then they kind of knew Graeme wasn’t going to go, so I was kind of like first reserve.

“But even then, Paul told me Padraig is definitely going to go and Shane is leaning heavily towards going.”

Six days later Lowry followed McIlroy in opting out of the Games and Power’s place was sealed when Paul Dunne was unable to overtake him in the Olympic rankings.

The accountancy graduate from East Tennessee State University, ranked 295th in the world, is rated a 300/1 outsider in the 60-man field, but is well qualified to know those odds might turn out to be rather generous.

“There are only four possibilities - you win gold, silver, bronze or you don’t win a medal,” added Power, who joined Harrington and McGinley in a “team-bonding” trip to watch the table tennis in Rio on Monday evening. “So you might as well aim high. There’s no point in coming down here and not expecting to win a medal.

“I know people who don’t know much about me probably think that’s crazy. That’s just how I view it. So I’ve got high expectations for myself.”