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Padraig Harrington has been tipped to become the oldest golfer in Ryder Cup history by his long-time coach Pete Cowen.

Speaking to at The Open, Cowen insisted that the resurgent Harrington deserves a wildcard for Luke Donald’s European team in Rome this September.

Harrington is ready to prove he is worthy of a remarkable return to the biennial contest as a player, two years after presiding over Europe’s record defeat against Team USA at Whistling Straits as captain.

• Harrington eyes shock Ryder Cup wildcard

The two-time Open champion, who is the big favourite to win the Senior Open at Royal Porthcawl this week, has won five times on the Champions Tour in the past 13 months.

And he confirmed after making the cut last week at Royal Liverpool that he will now prioritise playing on the DP World Tour over the US seniors circuit in his bid to earn a shock captain’s pick.

Harrington will celebrate his 52nd birthday before the September showdown and a call-up from Donald to play at Marco Simone would complete an extraordinary career renaissance.

Nobody has followed Harrington’s progress as closely as Cowen in recent months, and the acclaimed coach is adamant the Irishman can break Ray Floyd’s record as the oldest ever Ryder Cup competitor.

“He’d be on my team,” Cowen said. “I know what he’s like and I know how well he’s playing. He’s going to play most of the European events in an effort to get in the team.

“He hits the ball a long way now, he’s been doing strength training and hitting the ball harder to get more distance and it’s paid off for him enormously.

“He’s hitting it well enough, his competitiveness is unbelievable and his work ethic is even greater.

“If he shows the form he’s had on the Seniors Tour and at the US Open for the rest of the season he will make it.”

Donald’s strong core of European players already likely to tee it up in Rome include Rory McIlroy, Jon Rahm, Viktor Hovland, Matt Fitzpatrick, Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton, Justin Rose and Shane Lowry.

Sepp Straka also significantly boosted his chances of making his debut in blue and gold after backing up his victory in the recent John Deere Classic with a T2 finish at The Open.

But Cowen believes Harrington’s experience should give him a crucial edge as Donald weighs up a series of wildcard contenders that would be rookies in the battle.

“There’s eight really good players for the Ryder Cup which everyone could pick and there’s four up for grabs – he would definitely be one of my four,” he added.

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“Everybody says, ‘You need to start changing the team for the future.’ No, you’ve got to win. He’d certainly help the team room. He’s still competitive among the youngsters.”

Harrington, meanwhile, recently admitted that Donald should not consider any of his success in the seniors tournaments because “it’s different golf”.

But last month’s T27 finish at the US Open in Los Angeles proved that he can still mix it with the world’s best on the toughest courses.

After the Senior Open, he is planning to compete in the European Masters in Switzerland, knowing “it would seem a bigger deal to try and win a European event than a Champions Tour event”.

When asked whether he thinks Donald is now seriously considering Harrington, Cowen bluntly replied: “I told him to.”

He added: “Anybody that is playing well is on his mind because he wants to win – he doesn’t want to be another losing captain.”

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Ben Parsons joined bunkered as a Content Producer in 2023 and is the man to come to for all of the latest news, across both the professional and amateur games. Formerly of The Mirror and Press Association, he is a member at Halifax Golf Club and is a long-suffering fan of both Manchester United and the Wales rugby team.

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