FARMINGDALE, N.Y. — Padraig Harrington found a way to take some of the attention away from Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy on Thursday. He made six birdies on the tough back nine of Bethpage Black and opened the FedEx Cup playoffs with 7-under-par 64 for a one-shot lead at The Barclays.
And that surely got the attention of Ryder Cup captain Jose Maria Olazabal.
Harrington has to rely on a captain’s pick to make his seventh consecutive European team.
“The only answer I can give at this stage is I’m pleading the Fifth Amendment on that one,” Harrington said. “I honestly don’t know what to say. I don’t want to go in there and try too desperately to beg for a pick, or I don’t want to go in there and give excuses for anything. I’ll just leave it be what it is. I’m just going to play golf.”
Olazabal told reporters in Gleneagles, Scotland, that Harrington has to “at least win” to be considered for one of his two wild-card selections.
Nick Watney and former Georgia golfer Brian Harman are tied for second.
Sergio Garcia, who won Monday’s PGA Tour event in Greensboro, N.C., is part of the group at 66, while defending champion Dustin Johnson and K.J. Choi are among those at 67.
Thousands of fans chased after Woods and McIlroy, in the marquee group based on their standing in the FedEx Cup – Woods at No. 1, McIlroy at No. 3. Woods scrambled nicely to recover from a few errant shots and scratched out 68. McIlroy shot 69.
WEB.COM TOUR: In Knoxville, Tenn., Casey Wittenberg cooled off on his second nine but still shot 8-under-par 63 to take a two-shot lead after the first round of the News Sentinel Open.
Wittenberg started his round on the back nine at Fox Den Country Club, shooting 6-under 29 with five birdies and an eagle. He bogeyed two of the first three holes on his second nine but also had three birdies for 34.
Five players are tied for second place at 65, including former U.S. Open champion Lee Janzen.
Of the area players in the field, Kevin Kisner fired 67, Matt Hendrix shot 68 Scott Parel had 73 and Scott Brown shot 74.
EUROPEAN TOUR: In Gleneagles, Scotland, Nicolas Colsaerts shot 3-under-par 69 in the Johnnie Walker Championship, leaving the Ryder Cup hopeful two shots behind the first-round leaders in the final event in the points races for the 10 automatic spots on the European team.
Colsaerts made five birdies to share eighth place. He must finish first or second to be assured of an automatic position in the matches in September against the United States at Medinah in Illinois.
Brett Rumford and Knut Borsheim shot 67 on Gleneagles Hotel’s PGA Centenary Course.
None of the former Augusta State golfers broke par. Jamie Elson had 73, Scott Jamieson shot 76 and Oliver Wilson had 83.
LPGA TOUR: In Coquitlan, British Columbia, world No. 1 Yani Tseng shot 6-under-par 66 to take the first-round lead in the Canadian Women’s Open.
Tseng, a three-time winner this season, made bogey on No. 1, then struck for birdies on Nos. 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 11, 12 and 18.
Na Yeon Choi had 66.
Defending champion Brittany Linicome opened with 72.