Ryder Cup: Padraig Harrington proud of Team Europe despite record defeat in Wisconsin
"Everybody here gave 100 per cent, and pulled together, everybody worked together this week. There's nobody walking away from this week that didn't give their heart and soul to this team."
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 27/09/21 12:47am
Padraig Harrington could not fault his European players for effort and commitment and paid tribute to a "very strong" Team USA that powered to a record Ryder Cup victory at Whistling Straits.
Harrington conceded that Steve Stricker's stars were a class apart in their 19-9 triumph in Wisconsin, but the Irishman insisted he had enjoyed his stint as captain despite relinquishing the trophy in the most one-sided contest of the modern era.
"The team did everything I asked of them," said Harrington. "They worked great together, they worked hard together, there was great team spirit and everybody tried 100 per cent. We were just beat by a better team this week, a very strong US team that seemed to play right up to their ability.
"They had a bit of momentum, holed a few putts, had the crowd behind them. So it was just a lot of things really tough to overcome. They obviously got it right this week, a very strong team, but I'm happy for Steve Stricker. He's one of the good guys in golf. If you're going to get beat by a captain, that's a good captain for sure.
"Steve obviously got his plan right. Whatever their prep was, they did a good job, and they came out and started well and kept the momentum going. It was just a tough one to overcome. I believe that we did our job, but it just wasn't our week."
Harrington was at a loss to consider what he might have done differently to change the outcome, but he was delighted with how the team bonded and believes the likes of Jon Rahm and Viktor Hovland will play crucial roles for Europe in the future.
"Look, it's difficult being a captain," he added. "You go from being a player and you wonder, can you give what you need to give as a captain? So that will probably be what I take out of it, what I think I gave.
"I think I did what I needed to do. I'm quite a practical person, but I know I needed to be more than that when you're the Ryder Cup captain. I do think I managed to bring these guys together, and, okay, we didn't get the results we wanted, but I think we were a team, and that's the most important thing at the end of the day.
"There are young guys in this team that will be the heart of the team going forward. Jon Rahm, clearly; Viktor - these are young guys that will be there for a long time. But there's a good heart to the team.
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"Everybody keeps going on about the experienced guys, but there is a really solid heart on this team of players who are still coming into their peak of their careers. There are a number of guys in the middle of their careers now who should be moving on in their golf. They certainly haven't peaked yet, so we should see some strength going forward."
Harrington also urged his players to avoid being too hard on themselves when they reflect on a disappointing performance in Wisconsin, insisting Europe will learn from their defeat and come back stronger in Italy in two years' time.
"Everybody here gave 100 per cent, and pulled together, everybody worked together this week. There's nobody walking away from this week that didn't give their heart and soul to this team, and I will talk to each player individually. We don't owe anybody anything in that sense.
"They all tried, they all put it in. And you know, there will be more Ryder Cups ahead. As I just said before, most of them have the best part of their careers ahead of them, there's no doubt about that.
"So they shouldn't walk away from this, in any shape or form, feeling like, hey, they didn't give it 100 per cent. That's all you can ask from the players. Did they do their job? Yes, they did.
"It didn't go right, but that happens in sport. Just remember, if you want to have these glorious moments, you've got to put your head out there, and sometimes it doesn't go right. You get your head knocked off. That's just the reality of sport.
"If you put yourself out there, you'll have some miserable days, but also, if you put yourself out there, you'll have those thrilling days when you win."