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Harrington launches charm offensive and says he ‘will be getting a tattoo’ if he leads Europe to Ryder Cup victory

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Captain Padraig Harrington of Ireland and Team Europe speaks to the media prior to the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Captain Padraig Harrington of Ireland and Team Europe speaks to the media prior to the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Captain Padraig Harrington of Ireland and Team Europe speaks to the media prior to the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in Kohler, Wisconsin. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Europe’s players launched a charm offensive ahead of the 43rd Ryder Cup as they adopted the team colours of the Green Bay Packers and threw “cheesehead” souvenirs into the crowd.

On the second full day of practice at Whistling Straits, the visiting team wore predominantly white tops with green and yellow stripes in tribute to the NFL’s Packers, who are based an hour north of the course in Green Bay.

They also donned foam “cheeseheads” – the nickname for Packers fans which derives from a Dutch word used by residents of Illinois to insult people from Wisconsin – before giving them away to delighted fans in the grandstand surrounding the first tee.

“When we first went on to the tee the fans didn’t know about it and they went wild,” European captain Padraig Harrington said.

“The Wisconsin fans are very appreciative and we want to show our appreciation. We think the colours turned out nice and I think the players are stoked they are doing something to show their respect for the local state they are in.”

The scenes brought back memories of the 2004 Ryder Cup at Oakland Hills, when Harrington was one of the players under captain Bernhard Langer who also went out of their way to get the home fans at least partially on their side.

“Everybody is out here to get on well with the crowds,” Harrington added. “There’s no doubt about that. We obviously can’t sign autographs this week with COVID, which is something that traditionally we would do.

“These fans have come out and they’ve come out on a cold day. They’ve come out to watch us, and we want to give them something to watch.

“It’s lighthearted. You want it that way in practice. It’s somewhat respectful of the Green Bay Packers, and they were very much on board with this, so a bit of fun and we got a nice reception with it. That’s kind of what you want on the practice days.”

Ian Poulter drew the biggest cheer when his first attempt to throw a cheesehead into the crowd lacked the required height and clattered into the grandstand.

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Harrington also confirmed he would be following predecessor Thomas Bjorn’s promise to get a tattoo if his team won, as the Dane did following victory in 2018.

Three years ago in Paris, Bjorn pledged to his players he would get himself inked if they beat the United States, which they comfortably did by seven points.

The Dane followed through on his word three months later and Harrington has now committed to do the same.

“I am delighted that that’s all they ask for – I’d have given up a lot more – so yes, I will be getting a tattoo,” said the Irishman.

“If my team produce a winning week, I will be getting a tattoo to mark the occasion, and I’m very comfortable that they only asked that much of me because I would have given more.

“I think it’s an unwritten rule, so it has come up in conversation. Maybe they didn’t ask. Maybe I offered and they felt that was enough.

“But definitely, it’s a given now in Europe: captain has to get a tattoo.

“And I don’t have any other tattoos at this stage, so it would be a new experience for me.

“Where on the body? I don’t know. It depends…no, I can’t go that route…. depends how long it is.”

US captain Steve Stricker was unwilling to commit to getting a tattoo if his side regained the trophy, adding: “The problem is my girls, my wife and kids, have always asked me to get a tattoo and I’m like, I’m not putting any decals on my body kind of thing.

“The players gave me an idea what I could put on there. I told them where I was going to put it; it was going to go right on my cheek (backside).

“We’ll see what brings about that, but we may have a tattoo artist guy come in on Sunday night. One way or another, it may happen.”


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