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Padraig Harrington named 2020 European Ryder Cup captain

Padraig Harrington named 2020 European Ryder Cup captain

To the surprise of absolutely no one, Padraig Harrington will captain the European team that will defend the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits next year. At a press conference held in the clubhouse at the Wentworth Club just outside London—next door to the European Tour’s headquarters—the three-time major champion was unveiled as the successor to Thomas Bjorn.

The third Irishman to lead the Old World side since 2014 after Paul McGinley and Darren Clarke, Harrington was a racing certainty to be offered the job as soon as main rival Lee Westwood announced that he would not be a candidate until the 2022 matches in Rome.

In contrast, it was “now or never” for Harrington. With Adare Manor in county Limerick tipped to be a strong candidate to host the biennial matches in 2026, there was a slight temptation to wait and perhaps be skipper on home ground. But it was a fleeting thought for a man 47 years old.

“That would be too late,” he said. “Too late for me to wait for that. It would be too much of a risk. I would be somewhat out of touch with players by 2026, and there will be a lot of good players coming on the scene by 2026, good players who are playing now who would be looking for the captaincy. That would create a risk I’d never get the job. As much as I’d like to be the captain in Ireland, I think the risk outweighed the reward of waiting.”

An vice captain in the last three biennial contests and six times a player between 1999 and 2010—he finished on the winning side four times and scored 10½ points from his 25 matches—Harrington will bring a wealth of experience to his latest role, both on and off the course. Winner of the 2006 European Tour Order of Merit and the 2008 PGA Tour player of the year, the Dubliner (who is also a qualified accountant) is known as one of the most affable and quotable members of the professional golf fraternity. His interviews, whether one-on-one or surrounded by reporters, are legendary for both their length and depth.  As ever, he was not short of things to say during his introductory press conference. “I’ve learned from every one of the nine captains I have played and served under,” Harrington said. “I’ll take bits from all of them. So hopefully I’ll say the right things at the right time. I’m not the warm and fuzzy type, so I may be more of a Bernhard Langer-style captain. Paul McGinley took the job to another level and that’s a requirement now. We have more than 18 months to go, but it is a full-time job now.

“In retrospect I learned most from Darren Clarke’s captaincy,” Harrington said. “There were curve balls in there for him. But I like that Thomas relied on his vice-captains last year. I’ll be doing that, too. I will want them to handle a lot of the details so that I can make good decisions. That worked well in France.

“I’m very pleased with the support I’ve had from the players. I’ve spoken to them privately and publicly, I know they want continuity. And hopefully their confidence in me will be well-placed.”

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