Harrington names Karlsson as first Whistling Straits vice-captain

VIRGINIA WATER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 18: Robert Karlsson of Sweden, European Ryder Cup Vice Captain speaks during a press conference prior to the BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth Golf Club on September 18, 2019 in Virginia Water, United Kingdom. (Photo by Kate McShane/Getty Images)

Padraig Harrington has named Sweden’s Robert Karlsson as a first of a guaranteed five 2020 European Team Ryder Cup vice-captains ahead of naming another four later next year.

Karlsson, 50 is now a vice-captain for a second Ryder Cup running with Harrington singling out the Swede for special praise given both he and Harrington were joint vice-captains in last year’s victorious 2018 European Team in Versailles.

“Anybody who was involved in 2018 in the backroom staff would see this as a no-brainer pick as Robert is really good at this job,” said Harrington.

“He’s very logical, very straight. Doesn’t let the emotions — he’s playing to the stereotype to be honest. He doesn’t let the emotions get involved. A brilliant vice captain.

“He’s somebody I’ve known, we’ve both been on the Tour. He’s a little longer on the Tour than me, but since the start of the Tour, we’ve both had great success together.

“We’ve played Ryder Cup Matches together. We’ve been partnered together. But ultimately, you know, he provides those two things. He provides a great sounding board, a very logical, very straight sounding board to talk to for myself for the next year because there will be other vice captains, but like in a lot of instance, you have to wait.

‘“Not saying anything against Robert’s golf because he did perform very well the last couple of weeks there, but there’s other guys who potentially could make the team that could be vice captains, but I need a vice captain now. And Robert is an icon for the northern Europeans, the Continental northern Europeans and I need access to those guys.

“In the end of the day, there is — there can be a disconnect and you know, Robert will bridge that gap with those young, not just Scandinavians, but all the Continental Europeans Robert would be an icon for and he certainly helps me bridge that gap so that I have somebody there that knows them personally.

“That’s a big part of my job and Robert’s job now is to get to know the younger players personally over the next year, and Robert is certainly going to help with that side of it.”

Indeed, Harrington and Karlsson were team-mates in the winning 2006 European Team and were together two years later in leading out the opening match at the 2008 Ryder Cup and were also paired the following morning at Valhalla.

“It’s fantastic,” was Karlsson’s reaction.

“Pádraig asked me a little while ago, and just to get the question was fantastic. It almost feels like the other Ryder Cup just a year ago. We just finished it but now we start again.

“I’m really, really looking forward to this process and being able to be part of the team again, and help Pádraig along the way.”

Harrington, who will travel to Whistling Straits on Monday, September 30th for the ‘Year to Go’ ceremony, indicated he will not officially name his other four vice-captains until closer to the competition.

“The definite plan would be to have five and I don’t necessarily need to name them too early,” said Harrington.

“I think myself and Robert, I have somebody to talk and discuss with now.

“The vice captains that I would be thinking about all know; I’ve talked to them all, and you know, I’ve spoken to them. Actually, I’ve spoken to a few. There’s certainly one still completely open, but I’ve spoken to most of the other ones, and I will continue to talk to them in the sense of if I’m looking for an opinion and I haven’t named them as vice-captain, I can still go and ask them and talk to them.

“But most of the majority of the heavy lifting is going to be done by Robert for the next — certainly the next six months and you might find that another one or two is named, and then ultimately maybe the last two are going to be named.

“We haven’t set any dates on this, but closer to the tournament. You know, maybe a month or two. You clearly need them. When it comes to picking the three picks at the end of it, you do need to have your vice captains, and you need to have them for a few weeks beforehand to make sure you’re getting a full and rounded view of what’s out there.”



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