Padraig Harrington wary of risk of taking on Ryder Cup captaincy
By Keith Jackson
Last Updated: 08/01/19 11:08pm
Padraig Harrington is wary of the risk of tarnishing his successful career after being unveiled as Europe's captain for the 2020 Ryder Cup in Wisconsin.
Harrington has enjoyed an illustrious playing career, with three major championship titles among his 31 professional victories worldwide, but he admitted he was putting his career "on the line" by agreeing to succeed Thomas Bjorn for next year's contest at Whistling Straits.
The Irishman made six Ryder Cup appearances as a player and has been an assistant captain for the last three editions, and he believes taking on the outright captaincy is a natural progression for him, although he conceded he was running the risk of widespread backlash if Europe fail to defend the trophy.
"It seems to be the right time and place for me in my career and in the Ryder Cup profile of other players and whose turn it is," said Harrington during his unveiling at Wentworth. "But just because it seems like it's my turn, it's not just something I walked into.
"It's something I did think long and hard about. It's possibly easier to be a Ryder Cup captain at home, but I realised it was good timing in my career and that it probably was the best chance for me in an international setting going to the US, having me as their captain at this time.
"So I felt it was the right time for me to go for it, and, when you talk to the other players, I certainly have their support. When I talked to the other vice-captains and potential captains going forward, it seemed to fit very nicely that I go and do the away match.
"Then it really came down to whether I wanted to be in the hat and put what is a successful career on the line, because you are putting it on the line when you become Ryder Cup captain. It is a different element to your career.
"We know a successful captain is great, and a losing captain, you know, it's his fault. I am putting something on the line going out there. But once I decided that I wanted to take that chance, put myself out there, I think then it was just making sure that the European Tour and the PGA both decided I was the right man, too."
Harrington is confident he has all the attributes to be a successful Ryder Cup captain due to his vast experience in the competition both as a player and a member of the backroom team, and he is relishing the chance to spearhead Europe's 10th victory in the last 13 editions.
"Obviously I'm thrilled to be named as Ryder Cup captain for 2020," he added. "I really want to be a help, and I want to hopefully leave the Ryder Cup and the European Tour in a better place after two years. It's going to take a great deal of my time over the next 18 months, figuring out how can I make our team play to the best of their ability.
"We've had some great captains over the last number of years, and I suppose I've learned from all of them. I've probably learnt more as vice-captain than you do as a player, and the difference is amazing. As a player, you're very one-dimensional with doing your thing and getting on and performing, but as a vice-captain, you definitely see more.
"It is daunting because you want to do a good job, you want to add to the Ryder Cup, and Thomas has left us in a very strong place. He did a great job, and all the captains I've played under or was vice-captain, I've learned from every one of them and I will try to bring all that together.
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"Hopefully I will pull it together and say the right things at the right time, and hopefully get a team and get the best out of that team that provide a winning performance."