Padraig Harrington: I was selfish and ignorant as a Ryder Cup player

Annette Crawford
January 11, 2019

Padraig Harrington has been handed the task of defending Europe's Ryder Cup title in the United States in 2020 after being named team captain on Tuesday.

The 47-year-old concedes he was previously naive to the true demands placed on team leaders.

Working with the European Tour, McGinley was painstaking in how he went about the job - not least of which is how he set up the course to suit his team.

The three-time major victor had been the clear favorite to succeed Denmark's Thomas Bjorn for the defense at Whistling Straits, Wisconsin, after having served as vice captain at the last three Ryder Cups.

That is one of the big advantages when it is your turn to host this mega-event and Darren Clarke faced the ideal storm of a Hazeltine course created to suit big-hitting Americans, as a team bristling from the memory of how they had collapsed against the Gleneagles challenge sought revenge at all costs.

Padraig Harrington says there is "no doubt" Rory McIlroy will be included in Europe's 2020 Ryder Cup team as he dismissed doubts about the Northern Irishman's commitment. "We've had good performances from Europeans on that golf course for years".

"Becoming captain is not something I went into lightly", Harrington said after he was appointed.

"He gives so much to the Ryder Cup; the Ryder Cup gives so much back to Rory that he can't get anywhere else".

"The Ryder Cup gives back to all the players something that no other event gives back".

Even then, it took the spirit of Seve and the sensational late birdie blitz on Saturday by Ian Poulter, playing with Rory McIlory, to snatch an important point that made Sunday's comeback in the singles a possibility rather than a remote hope in the heart of diehard fans. Meanwhile, his main rival Lee Westwood had expressed his desire to try and qualify as a player. "You just have to know the man behind the scenes". "He could do anything in a Ryder Cup, he could gee you up if needs be or he could be calm and chilled out".

McIlroy admitted he "hit a wall" at Hazeltine and was clearly not on top form at Le Golf National, so it will be interesting to see if Harrington becomes the first captain to use him more sparingly.

For the USA team, Steve Stricker is the presumptive favorite to succeed Jim Furyk as captain when the matches are played at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin, which is about 100 miles northeast of Stricker's home in Madison.

But while the concensus is that this is the right time, and he is the right man, to Captain the side when they head to Whistling Straits, it's still a blow to one former Ryder Cup player who thinks his shot at the job is now over: Paul Lawrie.

18 September 2004; Padraig Harrington, Team Europe 2004, pictured on the 9th tee box during the Saturday Morning Four-Ball. "It seems to be the right time and place for me in my career".

He is convinced the venue, Whistling Straits, offers Europe one of their best chances for an away win and commands plenty of respect among the younger generation on the European Tour. I will talk to him through the winter, too. That could be a problem facing Harrington if it exacerbates through another season in 2019.

In fairness to the Northern Irish man, he has always played his heart out in the blue colours but giving any oxygen to an opponent (even praising their set-up) is not something created to help the cause of maintaining Europe's supremacy.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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