Padraig Harrington has come out fighting ahead of his PGA Champions debut this week at the Furyk & Friends Championship, defying anyone to identify a piece of prep work that wasn’t carried out perfectly during his reign as Ryder Cup captain.
The Dubliner had previously stated that he felt his legacy was somewhat on the line depending on the outcome of the biennial contest, and after a 19-9 hammering at the hands of Steve Stricker’s USA, he accepts that people are going to have their opinions, not that Harrington agrees with them.
“I will have an opinion, but clearly, I don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes, and I don’t have all the information,” Harrington told the Irish Independent.
“My argument seems very plausible when you have half the story but not all of the story. It’s disappointing to lose, but everybody on the team did everything possible. I defy anybody to come up with something that was not done perfectly – and I mean perfectly – for the week.”
Some commentators had identified one issue – a story emerging after the event that the three-time Major winner changed two of his foursomes pairings at the last minute because each player used a different golf ball. It meant Harrington breaking up Lee Westwood and Paul Casey and instead partnering them with Matthew Fitzpatrick and Viktor Hovland for Friday’s alternate shot. Far from a clerical error, however, Harrington feels like a mountain is being made of a molehill.
“There are probably close to eight balls in play for the 12 players, so you’re always going to have a situation of guys playing different golf balls,” Harrington said.
“We would’ve looked at golf-ball issues when we are pairing people up, but wow, a lot of times you are damned if you do or dammed if you don’t. Some people will look at that and say you are trying too hard. The same four players just switched partners. It was no drama, though, and when I did hear the story back, I thought, ‘Wow, you’re really making a mountain out of a molehill there’.
“There was zero drama. It had no significant change on where we were going. The same four players still went out in the foursomes on Friday.”
Another bone of contention was Harrington’s decision to go with three Captain’s picks compared to Stricker’s six. It had proved a winning formula for Europe over the past 20 years but with Covid playing havoc with the European qualification system, many felt Harrington could’ve done with at least one extra pick to ensure he was happy with his eventual twelve players.
“Show me the system that skips the ninth player,” Harrington said unequivocally. “The US didn’t skip the ninth player, and they had six picks. But that’s the nature of it. If you lose, you were going to be second-guessed.”
The $2million Furyk & Friends event begins on Friday.
- Full field found HERE