Har­ring­ton takes 'daunt­ing' role as Ry­der Cup cap­tain

Viet Nam News - - SPORT -

Padraig Har­ring­ton barely raised a smile as he spoke for the first time as Europe's new Ry­der Cup cap­tain.

In fact, as he dis­cussed his thought process be­fore ac­cept­ing the po­si­tion, the chal­lenge await­ing him over the next 20 months and its po­ten­tial im­pact on his golf­ing legacy, the role al­ready seemed some­thing of a bur­den for the easy­go­ing Ir­ish­man.

"It's not some­thing I take on without a cer­tain amount of trep­i­da­tion," Har­ring­ton, a three-time ma­jor cham­pion, said.

He used the word "daunt­ing". He ac­knowl­edged he was putting his golf­ing sta­tus on the line. He ques­tioned whether he would find the "edge" needed to lift Europe to a win over what will be a strong Amer­i­can team at Whistling Straits in 2020.

So did he really want a job that will con­sume his life and ef­fec­tively put his play­ing ca­reer on hold for the next two years?

"I was cer­tainly think­ing and con­sid­er­ing it," he said, when asked if he con­tem­plated turn­ing the of­fer down.

"I don't think I ever thought I wasn't go­ing to do it, but I wanted to make sure I was do­ing it for the right rea­sons.

"I wanted to be clear that I didn't just walk into this be­cause it was the next thing in my ca­reer, but that I be­lieved in it and wanted it."

Har­ring­ton did say he felt it was the right time to be­come cap­tain. He played in six straight Ry­der Cups from 1999 and was on the win­ning team four times, col­lect­ing 10 1/2 points. He has served as vice-cap­tain for the past three Ry­der Cups, most re­cently un­der Thomas Bjorn last year when Europe re­gained the tro­phy out­side Paris.

He has learnt from some of the great Euro­pean cap­tains and golf­ing fig­ures - Bern­hard Langer, Colin Mont­gomerie, Paul McGin­ley - and said he will take lit­tle bits from each in a bid to main­tain Europe's dom­i­nance in the event.

The Euro­peans have won nine of the last 12 Ry­der Cups.

But as some­thing of a per­fec­tion­ist and an over-thinker, Har­ring­ton said he was con­cerned about the facets of the job that were "out­side my con­trol".

"I have had a suc­cess­ful ca­reer, and you want to al­ways be suc­cess­ful in the golf­ing sphere be­cause of what I've done," he said.

"But I think more of it is you are try­ing to beat a US team away from home. They are great play­ers, a great team. It's just not an easy task. I am well aware that it's a win or noth­ing. It is daunt­ing.

"I am aware that I could have passed up on this and just kept on go­ing as a nice tour­na­ment golfer. I am, as a Ry­der Cup cap­tain, putting a lot of the his­tory of your game, your legacy, on the line."

Har­ring­ton has been en­cour­aged by what he said was the "unan­i­mous" sup­port of Europe's play­ers and for­mer cap­tains. He had been the over­whelm­ing favourite to re­place Bjorn, es­pe­cially after Lee West­wood said he pre­ferred to be cap­tain in the 2022 match in Italy.

"I know they want con­ti­nu­ity," Har­ring­ton said, re­fer­ring to Europe's top play­ers, "and it is a very im­por­tant thing. Their con­fi­dence in me is hope­fully go­ing to be well-placed. It does make my job eas­ier. They have spo­ken to me pub­licly and pri­vately."

The last of Har­ring­ton's 30 pro­fes­sional wins, which in­cluded three vic­to­ries in a span of six ma­jors across 2007-08, came at the Por­tu­gal Masters in 2016. He fin­ished 2018 as the world's 191stranked player, his low­est end-ofyear rank­ing since 2014, and it is likely to be even lower when the Ry­der Cup rolls around.

Bjorn went to Paris as a ca­reer-low No 853 in the world.

"I have reached the stage in my ca­reer where I en­joy play­ing golf," Har­ring­ton said.

"I am not as stressed about ev­ery­thing that goes with it. In the younger times in my ca­reer, if I didn't eat the right food, get in the gym, have my physio, there was an el­e­ment of, 'How can I per­form?'

"But I don't put my­self un­der the same pres­sure, I don't worry about it so much." AP

Old hand: Har­ring­ton played in six straight Ry­der Cups from 1999 and was on the win­ning team four times, col­lect­ing 10 1/2 points. Photo Golfweek

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