News & Opinion

Harrington seeks Europe’s ’20 Ryder captaincy

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – In hopes of becoming an honorary Cheesehead, Irishman Padraig Harrington has thrown his hat into the ring to be Europe’s 2020 Ryder Cup captain when the event goes to Whistling Straits, near Kohler, Wis.

Speaking on a conference call with golf media Tuesday for this summer’s British Open at Carnoustie, Harrington quashed any doubts that he would wait until the biennial event’s 2026 edition, when it is rumored to return to Ireland. 

Instead, Harrington, 46, a three-time major champion, is ready to take the reins in two years when Wisconsin native Steve Stricker is the odds-on favorite to lead the American squad.

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Padraig Harrington says he can’t afford to wait for Europe’s Ryder Cup captaincy in 2026, when the biennial matches will be played in his native Ireland.

© GOLFFILE/KEN MURRAY
Padraig Harrington says he can’t afford to wait for Europe’s Ryder Cup captaincy in 2026, when the biennial matches will be played in his native Ireland.

"As regards 2026, it's too late for me to wait,” Harrington said of a potential Ryder Cup captaincy. “It would be too much of a risk. I would be somewhat out of touch with players by 2026, and there would a lot of good players coming on the scene by 2026, good players who are playing now who would be looking for the captaincy.”

Harrington, a lifelong Dublin resident, played in six consecutive Ryder Cups, from 1999 to 2010. He also served as an assistant captain to Paul McGinley in Europe’s 16½-11½ victory against Tom Watson’s U.S. team at Gleneagles, Scotland, in 2014, and then under Darren Clarke in the 17-11 loss to the Davis Love III’s Americans at Hazeltine National in Minnesota in 2016.

Harrington stands 43rd in the European points list and 77th in the world points list. He would need an exceptional run from now until the Ryder Cup at Le Golf National in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, near Paris, on Sept. 28-30 to make his seventh team.

"I see my game at the moment that putting my name in the ring to be Ryder Cup captain is coming sooner rather than later, with my form. I don’t look like I’m going to be playing my way into any team too soon,” said Harrington, explaining his pragmatic outlook for making European captain Thomas Bjorn’s team.

Bjorn has only named one assistant, Sweden’s Robert Karlsson, leaving room for Harrington to fill one of the likely four remaining spots. A continued apprenticeship appears to be a clear prerequisite for selection as captain.

If Harrington were to be named captain in 2020 or beyond, he would join McGinley as Ireland’s only Ryder Cup captains.

"So, I don't think I will be waiting around for 2026, as much as I’d like to be the captain in Ireland,” Harrington said. “The risk outweighs the reward of waiting.”

Alex Miceli is the founder and publisher of Morning Read. Email: alex@morningread.com; Twitter: @AlexMiceli