Turkish Open: Padraig Harrington eyes Ryder Cup place after fine start
|Turkish Open round-one leaderboard|
|-7: N Colsaerts (Bel), J Luiten (Ned), Porteous (SA); -6: P Harrington (Ire), A Romero (Arg); -5: I Poulter (Eng), M Pavon (Fra), K Aphibarnrat (Tha), E Pepperell (Eng);|
|-4: T Hatton (Eng), S Kjeldsen (Den), L Westwood (Eng), P Dunne (Ire); Selected others: -2: J Rose (Eng), Par: T Fleetwood (Eng), M Kaymer (Ger); +2: H Stenson (Swe)|
Padraig Harrington believes he is capable of making a Ryder Cup return after a fine opening round left him a shot off the lead at the Turkish Open.
The Irishman, 47, has not played at a Ryder Cup since 2010 and was a vice-captain at the 2014 and 2016 events.
Harrington fired a six-under-par 65 in Antalya, his lowest round of 2017.
Argentina’s Andres Romero is also six under, a shot behind South Africa’s Haydn Porteous, Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts and Dutchman Joost Luiten.
Three-time major winner Harrington says European Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn has been “very polite” in not mentioning a vice-captain role as he prepares to stake a claim for selection for next year’s event in Paris.
Harrington, who said he will also feature at next week’s event in South Africa, began his tournament at Turkey’s Regnum Carya Golf & Spa Resort by hitting three birdies on both the front and back nine.
“The reason I’m here is because if you win one of these two events, it puts you right there for the Ryder Cup,” said Harrington.
“The last half dozen years I’ve been thinking it’s really tough to make this team, especially when you’re playing this mixed schedule here and over in the US.
“Now I might be resigned to the fact that it’s more about playing the right amount of tournaments and still needing to play and get lucky to make it.”
Ian Poulter, who missed the 2016 Ryder Cup through injury, is a shot behind Harrington on five under along with fellow Englishman Eddie Pepperell.
Co-leader Colsaerts – a two-time winner on the European Tour – briefly reached eight under but dropped a shot with a bogey on the 16th.
Luiten – who has five wins on Tour – and Porteous – a two-time winner – each went bogey free on a day of low scoring as 49 of the 78-strong field achieved par or better in calm conditions.