It comes as no surprise that Rory McIlroy tipped fellow Irishman Padraig Harrington to lead Europe as Captain into the defence of the 2020 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits.
Local Wisconsin-born Steve Stricker will be appointed the USA Team captain and while Thomas Bjorn cannot be ruled out of retaining the role for Europe, Harrington would seem the next-best suited to replace the Dane.
“I’ve always thought Pádraig would be a good captain in the United States,” said McIlroy to Sky Sports. “He’s won a lot of golf tournaments over there, he’s won a PGA Championship, so we’ll see.”
“I think the continuity in the European camp, having all these vice-captains this year and preparing for captaincy down the road has been a huge foundation of why we’ve been so good.”
“No matter who the captain is next time, they’ll be ready and I’m sure they will do a great job.”
Harrington played in six Ryder Cups from 1999 to 2010 competing in 25 matches winning nine, losing 13 and halving three and since Celtic Manor, Harrington has been a vice-captain in 2014, 2016 and 2018.
“It’s an interesting one because I wouldn’t do it without a certain trepidation because it’s not easy, it really isn’t easy. It’s a tough, tough job,” Harrington told RTÉ. “But on balance yes, I want to be a Ryder Cup captain at some stage.”
However, at a Wilson sponsored day at Carnoustie we learned of Harrington’s desire to become a European Team captain not in 2026 when Adare Manor is expected to be named as the host course but ‘sooner’.
“I see my game at the moment that putting my name in the ring to be Ryder Cup Captain is coming sooner rather than later as it does not look like I will be playing my way into this year’s team,” he said at the time. And so it proved, in relation to the playing side of things at least.
“But as regards 2026, it’s too late for me to wait. It would be too much of a risk. I would be somewhat out-of-touch with players by 2026 and there would a lot of good players coming on the scene by then. There are good players who are playing now who will be looking for the captaincy in 2026.”
“It would mean creating a risk that I might not get the job. So, I don’t think I will be waiting around for 2026 as much as I would love to be the captain in Ireland but I think the risk would far outweigh the reward of waiting, so I think it better for me to pitch for the captaincy or whatever you do to put your name in the ring before 2026 to reduce the fact there are a lot of good players following who will be looking for the Ryder Cup captaincy in eight years time.”
“To be the European Captain in 2020 would just be good timing for me in terms of my career”
Harrington would be aged 49 in September 2020 and there is no denying, as McIlroy rightfully pointed out, his popularity among the Americans would be helpful to the team.