The Irishman will be keeping a keen eye on how any potential players perform with an Olympic medal on the line

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Padraig Harrington On Olympics: “Very Important” For Ryder Cup

European Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington has insisted the Olympic Games in Tokyo will hold merit when it comes to his team selection if any potential picks can stand up to the pressure and stress of challenging for a medal.

In the lead-up to the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island, the Irishman was quizzed on the factors he considers most important for himself and vice-captains, citing performance in golf’s biggest events and included the Olympics.

“Yeah, look, it [the Olympics] is very important when you’re looking from a Ryder Cup perspective,” the 2008 PGA Champion said.  

“You’re looking at players who play well in the majors, players who play well this week, players that play well when it’s on the line. 

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“The Olympics creates that pressure and tension. Winning an Olympic medal is a big deal, I’ve seen that. I’ve traveled the world since the last Olympics, and even as a three-time major winner, Ryder Cup captain, I could be introduced in some countries and they might say three-time major winner, I get a clap. 

“They might say Ryder Cup captain, I might get a cheer. But when you say an Olympian they can recognise that that’s something they can judge a merit off of what you did in your career.”

Harrington’s comments come after Lee Westwood, currently set to qualify automatically to represent Europe for an 11th time, officially ruled himself out of the Tokyo Games due to an overly congested schedule, among other things.

World No. 1 Dustin Johnson and Adam Scott also announced earlier in the year that they would be skipping the event that suffered similar setbacks at the Rio Games in 2016 as a result of the Zika virus.

However, as the most watched sporting event in the world, Harrington will be keeping a particularly keen eye on the Europeans who are able to perform under such intense conditions.

He added: “It’s a big deal being an Olympian, and especially would be a big deal if you won a medal, gold medal. 

“That will put players under pressure and stress. From my perspective if a player can go out and win in the Olympics, that’s the sort of player I want on the first tee of a Ryder Cup.”

As a former PGA Champion, Harrington has a lifetime exemption into the PGA Championship and is relishing the “really nice test” on a “beauty of a golf course” at Kiawah Island. 

The three-time major winner will get his first round underway at 6.14pm BST alongside fellow former champions Phil Mickelson and Jason Day.

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