After making Ryder Cup appearances six times as a player and three times as a vice-captain, Padraig Harrington will be the man in charge of Team Europe in 2020 when the Ryder Cup comes to Whistling Straits near Sheboygan.
Harrington, 47, was announced Tuesday as European captain for the biennial matches, which will be held Sept. 25 through 27, 2020 on the Straits Course. The three-time major champion was part of four Ryder Cup victories in his six stints as a player.
"Obviously I'm thrilled to be named as the Ryder Cup captain for 2020; it's not something I went into lightly," Harrington said at a news conference. "You know, I suppose you could look at this as being a natural progression. You move on from player to vice captain to captain, but it's not something that I take on without a certain amount of trepidation. I really want to be a help. I want to hopefully lead The Ryder Cup and The European Tour in a better place after two years.
"But I know we want continuity in Europe. We want to keep moving along and ideally we play The Ryder Cup match tomorrow with the same 12 guys, but I know we're going to a new venue. It's an away match. We're going to have, on average, you know, three more rookies coming into the team, and I have to be a part of that team and ensure that I find an edge to make the team perform to the best of their abilities, get the most out of them and hopefully get a win."
As a player, Harrington made his Ryder Cup debut at The Country Club in Brookline in 1999 and was ever-present for the following five editions, helping Europe to victory in 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2010.
He was named as vice-captain for the first time by countryman Paul McGinley for the victory at Gleneagles in 2014, a role he returned to in 2016 at Hazeltine National under Darren Clarke, and again last September in France under Denmark’s Thomas Bjørn. Europe regained the Ryder Cup at Le Golf National with a 17½-10½ victory over the Americans.
Harrington has won 30 tournaments worldwide and famously secured his first major championship in 2007 at The Open Championship at Carnoustie, defeating Sergio Garcia in a playoff. He successfully defended the Claret Jug at Royal Birkdale the following year and became the first European to win back-to-back majors when he added the 2008 US PGA Championship at Oakland Hills CC in Birmingham, Michigan, a few weeks later.
Harrington was chosen as Europe’s 2020 Ryder Cup captain by a five-man selection panel comprising the three most recent European Ryder Cup captains – Bjørn, Clarke and McGinley – as well as Keith Pelley, the chief executive of the European Tour, and European Tour tournament committee representative Edoardo Molinari.
“I have played under, and been involved with, many wonderful European captains since I made my debut in the contest 20 years ago and I would like to think that my captaincy will be a mix of all of them," Harrington said. "I am very much looking forward to taking on this role.”
The Irishman claimed a total of 10½ points over his six Ryder Cup appearances, starting at Brookline in 1999, when he teamed up with Miguel Ángel Jiménez in Day 1 foursomes to halve with Davis Love III and Payne Stewart before claiming his maiden singles victory, defeating Mark O’Meara.
His first experience of a European victory came in the next edition at The Belfry in 2002 where he took two points from his four matches — partnering with Colin Montgomerie to beat Phil Mickelson and David Toms in the four-ball and defeating Mark Calcavecchia 5 and 4 in singles.
Harrington’s greatest single match points haul of four from five matches came in Europe’s record-breaking 18½-9½ victory at Oakland Hills in 2004. He resumed his partnership with Montgomerie to defeat Phil Mickelson and Tiger Woods in the four-ball and Davis Love III and Fred Funk in the foursomes, before teaming up with McGinley to beat Love III and Woods in the foursomes and closing out the competition with a singles win over Jay Haas.
He was part of another stunning win by the same score two years later, this time on home soil at The K Club before rounding off his playing career as part of Europe’s dramatic 14½-13½ triumph at The Celtic Manor Resort in Wales in 2010, partnering Ross Fisher to victory over Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson in the foursomes and Jim Furyk and Dustin Johnson in four-balls.
"You know, having been a player, having won three majors, I've done a lot in my own personal career, but I know taking on The Ryder Cup captaincy is a different thing," Harrington said. "It's a different level and it's something I have to, I'm really conscious that I have to find that edge and add to it. That's something that I don't (take) lightly."