European Tour

Harrington backs Tour's Russia move

2015-05-27 10:43
Padraig Harrington (File)

Newcastle - Triple major champion Padraig Harrington has backed the European Tour's decision to start the qualifying process for next year's Ryder Cup in Russia.

Earlier on Tuesday, officials announced the ground-breaking move to start the year-long points bid at the Russian Open in Moscow in September.

"It's a good thing not only for the European Tour but golf in general," Harrington told Reuters in an interview ahead of this week's Irish Open.

"The tour needs to move east big time and I mean not only east as in terms of already being out in Asia but we need to embrace eastern Europe more.

"The tour doesn't have many big events in eastern Europe and I would like to think there is growth there for the game of golf," added Harrington who has played in the biennial team event six times.

"For 2016 Ryder Cup qualifying to be starting in Moscow has to be good as it will increase the profile not only of the Ryder Cup in eastern Europe but also the European Tour."

The 43-year-old Irishman believes Russia can make the same sort of impact on the game as China, which hosts four events on the circuit this year.

"As far as I am concerned it will help in driving the game forward," said Harrington.

"Russia, surely, is an untapped market in golf. You only have to look at how far China has progressed ... given that this year was the 10th anniversary of the Volvo China Open being on the European Tour calendar."

The Russian Open has been going since 1996, apart from a four-year absence from 2009-2012, but tour events in eastern Europe are few and far between.

Contrary to some media reports, Harrington has two more opportunities to qualify for next month's U.S. Open.

On Monday, the world number 86 failed to progress through qualifying at Walton Heath on the outskirts of London but he can still book his ticket for Chambers Bay in Washington.

A top-three finish at the Irish Open, a tournament he won in 2007, would earn him a place at the second major of the year via a spot in the top-60 of the rankings.

Harrington has also entered the June 11-14 St Jude Classic in Memphis where a similar finish would also suffice.

"I still need to win 25 ranking points either this week or in the St Jude Classic...and I should qualify for the U.S. Open," he told reporters.

"A win here this week in the Irish Open or a win in Memphis would easily take care of it."

The winner of the British Open in 2007 and 2008 and the 2008 U.S. PGA champion was forced out of last week's BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth with a shoulder problem but he said he was now over the injury.

"The shoulder is back to 100 percent and I would crawl to the first tee to tee it up this week," said Harrington.

Read more on:    ryder cup  |  padraig harrington  |  golf

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