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Harrington focus on cup return

PADRAIG HARRINGTON will turn his focus to Ryder Cup qualification in Nevada, next week.

The Dubliner is currently ranked 60th in the world and has failed to qualify for the $8.5million Bridgestone Invitational, in which he was runner-up to Tiger Woods three years ago.

Firestone will be the fourth successive World Golf Championship Harrington will miss since his 12-year run at elite events ended at last November's HSBC Champions in Shanghai.

Instead, Harrington will star at the Reno-Tahoe Open in Nevada, where the field will be much weaker, but where he can still pick up much-needed world ranking points.

The 40-year-old even considered playing this week in Canada or Austria to boost his Ryder Cup position further, but said: "It wouldn't be good preparation for the PGA. I felt I better stick with my preparation for the PGA."

Harrington was one of Europe captain Colin Montgomerie's picks in the 2010 Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor, the first time he had not made it on points.

But he is desperate to qualify on merit for September's event at Medinah, Illinois, where the European team will be led by Jose Maria Olazabal.

"The key for me is to try to qualify by merit. That's what I've got to do - I can't even begin to think or entertain what's going through his (Olazabal's) head," he added.

Harrington's last victory in either America or Europe remains the 2008 USPGA.

He did come eighth at The Masters and fourth at the US Open, where a last-hole birdie would have put him in a play-off, but he was only 39th at Royal Lytham.

As a consequence, he slipped one spot on the world rankings to 60th, but the feeling is that a strong showing at this year's USPGA or The Barclays would make him a leading candidate for a wild card.

Belgian Nicolas Colsaerts had a huge smile on his face when he came off Royal Lytham after shooting a closing 65 for joint seventh place. But it would have been an even bigger one if Olazabal had not changed the way the European Ryder Cup team is to be chosen.

Under the old system, Colsaerts would have gone into an automatic qualifying position. As it is, the Volvo World Match Play winner is still outside the top 10.

The change Olazabal made was to take the first five players of his side off a list based on European Tour earnings and then the next five off a world points list.

Colin Montgomerie and those before him had it the other way round.

While it currently makes no difference in nine of the 10 spots, as things stand, Sergio Garcia is in and Colsaerts is out.