Sport Golf

Monday 21 January 2019

'Perfect fit' Padraig Harrington set to be named as Europe's newest Ryder Cup captain today

 

Pádraig Harrington. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Pádraig Harrington. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Brian Keogh

Pádraig Harrington is set to be confirmed as European Ryder Cup captain for 2020 today, with his renowned grit and guts making him the ideal candidate for the role in Whistling Straits.

That's the view of some of Europe's past players as the European Tour prepares to anoint the Dubliner as Thomas Bjorn's successor at Wentworth today.

"It's perfect for Pádraig," said two-time Ryder Cup player Des Smyth, who was also an assistant captain at The K Club in 2006 and at Gleneagles in 2014, where Harrington took the first of his three vice-captaincies after six straight playing appearances.

"It's being played in America and he's played there a lot. He has been understudy many times and he has loads of experience.

"It's tough to win away, as the Americans know after Paris. But Pádraig will be ready, don't you worry. He is the thinking-man's pro."

Harrington’s popularity in the US is another plus heading to faux-links Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, which he’s described as being “as European as it gets”.

“All Americans think they are either Irish or Italian, so he’s got a 50-50 chance of getting on with a few people,” said 10-time Ryder Cup player Lee Westwood.

Scotland’s Stephen Gallacher, who saw Harrington in action as a vice-captain for McGinley in 2014, believes Harrington’s competitive grit will be key for Europe.

“I think he’ll be a great captain,” Gallacher said. “He’s a deep thinker... He’s got a strong mindset and I think you need that in a captain. Thomas was different from Darren (Clarke), Paul (McGinley) was different from Darren. He’ll take bits from them, but he is his own man, 100per cent.”

The 47-year-old, who won’t play on the tour until February due to injury, is a four-time winner of the Ryder Cup as a player and was well-liked by the current crop in France.

The three-time Major winner has been long-time favourite to captain the holders across the Atlantic next year (September 25-27).

Harrington has also played the course a number of times and key allies within the team, most notably Rory McIlroy, at the heart of the side, have given him their public backing.

Irish Independent

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