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Padraig Harrington named European Ryder Cup Captain for 2020

Padraig Harrington has been named as the European Captain for The 2020 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin from September 25 – 27, 2020.

The three-time Major Champion has a storied Ryder Cup career, having represented Europe six times as a player – including being part of four triumphs – while latterly he has brought his extensive experience to the role of Vice-Captain in the past three editions of the biennial contest.

The 47 year old joins Paul McGinley (2014) and Darren Clarke (2016), as professionals from the island of Ireland to lead Europe and will be hoping to emulate the last European triumph on American soil – at Medinah in 2012 – as Europe defend the trophy won memorably at Le Golf National last September.

As a player, Harrington made his Ryder Cup debut at The Country Club in Brookline in 1999 and was ever-present for the following five editions, helping Europe to victory in 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2010.

He was named as Vice-Captain for the first time by fellow Dubliner McGinley for the victory at Gleneagles in 2014, a role he returned to in 2016 at Hazeltine National under Darren Clarke, and again last September in France under Denmark’s Thomas Bjørn.

The former European Number One has collected 30 titles worldwide and famously secured his first Major in The 2007 Open Championship at Carnoustie, defeating Sergio Garcia in a play-off. He successfully defended the Claret Jug at Royal Birkdale the following year and became the first European to win back-to-back Majors when he added the 2008 US PGA Championship at Oakland Hills a few weeks later.

Harrington was chosen as Europe’s 2020 Ryder Cup captain by a five-man selection panel comprising the three most recent European Ryder Cup Captains – Bjørn, Clarke and McGinley – as well as the Chief Executive of the European Tour, Keith Pelley, and European Tour Tournament Committee representative Edoardo Molinari.

Harrington said: “It is a tremendous honour to be named Ryder Cup Captain and I am relishing the next 20 months as we work towards Whistling Straits and Europe’s defence of the trophy.

“I have played under, and been involved with, many wonderful European captains since I made my debut in the contest 20 years ago and I would like to think that my captaincy will be a mix of all of them. I am very much looking forward to taking on this role.”

The Irishman claimed a total of 10½ points over his six Ryder Cup appearances, starting at Brookline in 1999, when he teamed up with Miguel Ángel Jiménez in the day one foursomes to halve with Davis Love III and Payne Stewart before claiming his maiden singles victory, defeating Mark O’Meara by one hole.

His first experience of a European victory came in the next edition at The Belfry in 2002 where he took two points from his four matches – partnering Colin Montgomerie to beat Phil Mickelson and David Toms in the fourballs and defeating Mark Calcavecchia 5 and 4 in the singles.

Harrington’s greatest single match points haul of four from five matches came in Europe’s record-breaking 18½ – 9½ victory at Oakland Hills in 2004. He resumed his partnership with Montgomerie to defeat Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods in the fourballs and Davis Love III and Fred Funk in the foursomes, before teaming up with McGinley to beat Love III and Woods in the foursomes, before rounding off with a singles win over Jay Haas.

He was part of another stunning win by the same scoreline two years later, this time on home soil at The K Club in County Kildare, before rounding off his playing career in the contest as part of Europe’s dramatic 14½ – 13½ triumph at The Celtic Manor Resort in Wales in 2010, partnering Ross Fisher to victory over Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson in the foursomes and Jim Furyk and Dustin Johnson in the fourballs.

Photo: Getty Images

PADRAIG HARRINGTON PROFILE

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Bjørn welcomes eight automatic qualifiers to Team Europe

Europe’s Ryder Cup Captain Thomas Bjørn welcomed the first eight members of the European Team to face the USA in Paris after his countryman, Thorbjørn Olesen, took the last available automatic spot at his home event, the Made in Denmark.

Olesen was in direct competition with Matt Fitzpatrick and Eddie Pepperell for the last available automatic qualifying spot, but the English duo both had to win the event to stand a chance of leapfrogging Olesen on the World Points List.

Olesen is the fourth and final player to make the team via the World List, joining Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy and Alex Noren; while Francesco Molinari, Justin Rose, Tyrrell Hatton and Tommy Fleetwood qualified from the European Points List.

Bjørn said: “First of all I want to congratulate the eight players who have automatically qualified for The 2018 Ryder Cup Team. They have all played some incredible golf to make it, and every single one of them is a world class golfer who will represent Europe with pride and commitment. I am honoured and extremely proud to be their Captain.”

Europe’s Captain will now turn his attention to completing his 12-man team on Wednesday when he announces his four Wild Card picks. That will be a tough task with so many talented players available, but it is a problem Bjørn would rather have than not.

“It’s a great position to be in,” he agreed. “A lot of guys are playing well. We’re in a situation where we’re going to make some guys happy and we’re going to let some guys down, but that’s the way it is and the way it has always been. But there is no doubt that myself and the Vice Captains will go with the decision we feel is right.”

Bjørn’s eight qualifiers are naturally delighted to have made the team and are relishing the opportunity to reclaim the Ryder Cup in Paris in four weeks’ time.

Molinari said: “It’s going to be a great honour to represent Europe in the Ryder Cup again. One of the many benefits of winning The Open was that I knew then that I was going to be in the team so it has been a very enjoyable qualification for me this year. I think all of the guys will say the same – I am excited to be part of Team Europe again and will do everything I can to help Thomas and the Team try to win back the Ryder Cup.”

Rose said: “It’s always a long wait for the Ryder Cup and then all of a sudden you realise it’s upon us and a lot of our focus now will turn to doing everything we can for our Captain and Team to bring that trophy on European soil. It’s going to be a great Ryder Cup with two very good teams going head-to-head and it feels like it’s going to be a very close battle this year in Paris.”

Tyrrell Hatton: “I’m glad that it’s finally here. I obviously managed to get a lot of my qualification points early on the process so it has been a long wait for me. So to be able to finally get there and get going will be a bit of a relief in some ways. My game is in good shape too so hopefully I can be there to help the Thomas and the Team whenever they need me.”

Tommy Fleetwood: “I’m so happy, honoured and extremely proud to have qualified for the team. I absolutely believe it will be one of the best Ryder Cups ever with the quality of both teams being as high as they are. The atmosphere will be amazing at Le Golf National. Honestly can’t wait for this experience!”

Rahm said: “I have to say that I am really excited to make my Ryder Cup debut for Team Europe. I have spoken to a lot of the guys about it and everyone tells me how amazing of an experience it will be.  Both Teams look to be very strong and hopefully we can come out on top.”

McIlroy said: “You can definitely feel the Ryder Cup build-up, especially now that we have our eight qualifiers confirmed. I think we have the makings of a very strong Team and I know that Thomas and his Vice-Captains will think long and hard about the best four players to add to our group on Wednesday. I think Thomas is going to be a great captain. I chatted with him on the phone twice last week, just talking about a few things. He’s keeping everyone in the loop.”

Alex Noren: “I think we have a great team already and I am sure Thomas and the Vice-Captains will add even more strength to the Team next week. I’m looking forward to playing my first Ryder Cup – it is something I have thought about for a long time. I’m very happy that we are playing at Le Golf National too – having won around there this year I obviously can play well around there so hopefully I can help the Team win as many points as possible.”

Olesen said: “Relief is my first emotion, that’s for sure. It’s been a tough week, a long week. A lot of things on my mind. It’s been difficult but it’s been great to learn that different kind of pressure. I think I handled it pretty well. There were a couple of things that could have been better, but it was a tough week and I feel pretty happy now. To make the team automatically probably makes it that little bit more special, but it’s nice to place yourself in the team, and being inside that top eight will probably make me feel a little bit more comfortable when I get to The Ryder Cup. I’m happy and I’m very proud of myself, the way I’ve done things this summer and I’ve handled myself.”

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20 years ago – Ryder Cup glory at Valderrama

  • Olazábal: “Seve brought to the team the passion he put in everything he did. He expected as much from us as he expected from himself.”
  • “I got emotional when I was asked how I felt at the final press conference. I recalled my recent tough times and I broke down.”

Twenty years ago, the 28th of September 1997 was a milestone in Valderrama history as Seve Ballesteros led Europe to a 14½ – 13½ victory in his home country when golf’s greatest team event was staged in Continental Europe for the first time. That week, the southern Spanish venue hit the headlines worldwide by hosting the world’s third biggest sports event after the Olympics and the World Cup.

28 Sep 1997: European team members Ignacio Garrido, captain Seve Ballesteros, his assistant Miguel Jimenez and Jose Maria Olazabal celebrate with the trophy after victory over the USA in the Johnnie Walker Ryder Cup at the Valderrama Golf Club in Sotogrande in Spain. Mandatory Credit: David Cannon /Allsport

The 32nd Ryder Cup was very special for José María Olazábal. “I have many great memories of that week at Valderrama. To begin with, the beautiful inauguration ceremony, and then the dowpour that fell in the early hours of Friday. According to local statistics it hadn’t rained that week for more than forty years, but that deluge made up for those and for the next forty! 

“It was a very special Ryder Cup for me. After sharing so many with Seve as partners, having him as Captain was a very different feel. Seve was on top of every detail, he expected as much from us as he expected from himself. This made some players a bit uncomfortable, but I believe he did very well. We were close friends and we got on wonderfully.

“He had analysed every aspect of our opponents’ game and he prepared the course so we all had the same opportunities. With the help of Miguel, his right hand, he got the pairings completely right. He brought to the team the passion he put in everything he did – he was a great Captain.

“I clearly remember my Saturday morning four-ball with Nacho Garrido. The key moment was on 17 when we were really struggling against Phil Mickelson and Tom Lehman. Nacho’s second was bunkered past the green while Phil had hit a superb shot to six feet. Nacho’s bunker shot was amazing; the best bunker specialist couldn’t have done it in a hundred tries. He made his putt and Phil missed, so we halved that hole and eventually halved the match. It was an incredible moment.

“I got emotional at the final press conference when they asked me how I felt not having made it to the ’95 Ryder Cup; I recalled the tough times between ’95 and the first part of ’97 and I broke down; I was unable to talk for a while. To be there again on the winning team representing Europe, representing Spain, with Seve as Captain, meant the world to me.”

Olazábal (Hondarribia, Guipúzcoa 5/2/1966) has played several events on the European and Champions Tours this season. The winner of 35 international titles – including two green jackets in 1994 and 1999 – seven-times Ryder Cup player and victorious Captain in 2012, member of the Hall of Fame since 2009, will tee it up at the Andalucía Valderrama Masters from October 19-22, although he admits not being at his best driving form “I am struggling to hit fairways, so I expect to visit all the cork trees again”, he adds with a grin.

Valderrama holds many good memories for the Spanish champion. “My best result was third at the 1989 Volvo Masters won by Ronan Rafferty. Without being long, Valderrama is one of the most demanding courses in the world; technical and narrow with small greens. You must keep perfectly focused from the first tee shot to the last putt. I know no other course that doesn’t allow for a moment of relaxation in 18 holes. It’s a great golf course and always in top condition.”

Images above credited to Getty Images and RC Valderrama

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