Padraig Harrington makes his Champions Tour debut this week in very elite company in Florida some six weeks after turning 50.
Harrington became eligible for the ‘Seniors Brigade’ on 31st August but his entry was delayed due to the Irishman’s Ryder Cup captaincy duties and after the events last fortnight at Whistling Straits, Harrington will be looking for headlines of a different kind in Friday’s start to the $US 2m Constellation – Furyk and Friends event at the Timuquana Country Club in Jacksonville.
The event, while Harrington’s first on the Champions Tour, represents the next-to-last chance for players to make the top-72 on the list and qualify for the three-tournament Schwab Cup playoff series.
Harrington will not only join host Jim Furyk but also triumphant 2021 USA Ryder Cup captain Steve Stricker who will be competing along with Phil Mickelson, Davis Love III, Fred Couples and one of Harrington’s Whistling Straits deputies, Swede Robert Karlsson.
Furyk, the tournament host, and Stricker, are two of five past U.S. Ryder Cup captains entered in the tournament with Furyk captain in 2018, Love III in 2012 & 2016, Corey Pavin in 2010 and Tom Lehman in 2006.
Former European captains competing include Darren Clarke (2016), Colin Montgomerie (2010), Jose Maria Olazabal (2012) and Bernhard Langer (2004) who is currently top of the money-list in the chase for the Schwab Cup.
Furyk said the number of captains and past Ryder Cup players in the field so soon after the U.S. took back the Ryder Cup, can’t help but add more lustre to a tournament that already has nine members of the World Golf Hall of Fame and 18 major champions.
“You’re looking at every eligible captain and vice-captain from this year’s team here,” Furyk said during the tournament’s media day last month. “It creates a buzz. If the U.S. team goes on to win [which it did], it definitely would be a kick.”
Brady Miller, the president of PGA Tour Champions, said it might have not have mattered who won the biennial match-play event between the U.S. and Europe.
“I think regardless of who wins, it will generate even more exposure for us because they’re going to be here so shortly after Whistling Straits,” he said.
“You look at Phil, Davis, Freddie, throw in John Daly, and those names are going to draw big crowds regardless of what happened in the Ryder Cup,” Furyk said. “Those names pretty much stand on their own and create a buzz no matter what.”
All up, there will be five past U.S. Ryder Cup captains and four former European Team captains.
There will be 14 past members of the U.S. Ryder Cup team in the field, and nine past European members.
Ryder Cup Captains
U.S.: Steve Stricker (2021), Jim Furyk (2018), Davis Love III (2012, 2016), Corey Pavin (2010), Tom Lehman (2006).
Europe: Padraig Harrington (2021), Darren Clarke (2016), Jose Maria Olazabal (2012), Bernhard Langer (2004).
Ryder Cup Vice-captains
U.S.: Stricker (2014, 2016, 2018), Love (2010, 2018, 2021), Furyk (2016, 2021), Pavin (2006), Fred Couples (2021, 2012), Jeff Sluman (2010, 2012), Duffy Waldorf (2006).
Europe: Harrington (2014, 2016, 2018), Olazabal (2008, 2010, 2014), Robert Karlsson (2018, 2021), Clarke (2010), Miguel Angel Jimenez (1997, 2012, 2014).
Past Ryder Cup Players
U.S.: Mark Calcavecchia, Couples, Chris DiMarco, Fred Funk, Furyk, Jay Haas, Lee Janzen, Lehman, Love, Jeff Maggert, Mickelson, Mark O’Meara, Kenny Perry, David Toms.
Europe: Paul Broadhurst, Clarke, Harrington, Jimenez, Karlsson, Langer, Montgomerie, Olazabal, Jesper Parnevik.