Padraig Harrington keen to captain Europe at 2020 Ryder Cup

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Three-time major winner Padraig Harrington has declared his interest in captaining Europe at the 2020 Ryder Cup.

Harrington has played in six European Ryder Cup teams and has been a vice-captain under Paul McGinley in 2014 and Darren Clarke two years later.

The 46-year-old is expected to be named by current European skipper Thomas Bjorn as a vice-captain for the next edition of the Ryder Cup against the United States in France in September.

But Harrington has his sights set on being Europe’s captain for the 2020 tournament, especially because he would be aged 55 by the 2026 Ryder Cup.

He believes it would be too risky to wait until then, given he would be a good many years away from the main European Tour.

“I would love to be a Ryder Cup Captain down the road,” Harrington told reporters on Tuesday.

“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.

Harrington at the Valspar Championship

Harrington at the Valspar Championship

“But as regards to 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 2026.”

Harrington has the pedigree to lead Europe’s top stars after winning two British Open titles and the PGA Championship during his career.

The 2020 Ryder Cup is to be staged at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin and it would pit Harrington possibly up against the likes of England’s Lee Westwood and Scotland’s Paul Lawrie for the captaincy.

“There is good players who are playing now who will be looking for the captaincy in 2026,” Harrington added.
“It would me 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.

“It would be just good timing for me in terms of my career to be the captain in 2020.”

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Patrick Reed's Augusta triumph proves America are Masters of golf

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Patrick Reed’s win at Augusta National on Sunday was the latest in a scintillating run of success for American golf.

The 26-year-old’s triumph means all four majors are currently held by American players, and all under the age of 27 – with six of the world’s top 11 players also coming from across the pond.

American golf is certainly making a splash.

Brooks Koepka (27), Jordan Spieth (24) and Justin Thomas (24) hold the US Open, The Open Championship and PGA Championship trophies – with world number six Rickie Fowler yet to win but consistently proving he can challenge at the top of the leaderboard.

At 29, Fowler may be the oldest of the five players but has shown he has the quality, nerve and skillset to win a major – shooting a final round 67 at the Masters to finish one shot behind eventual winner Reed on 15-under-par.

If you contrast America’s rise to Europe’s, no big player has kicked in the same way, apart from world number three Jon Rahm who sealed a fourth place finish at Augusta and won the CareerBuilder Challenge in January.

Of course, there are stars like Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton and Matt Fitzpatrick continuing to shine on the European Tour, but none have really thrived at a major.

Maybe it’s the college and amateur tour in America that has instilled this strength and talent in youngsters, with players like Bryson DeChambeau (24) and Thomas coming straight out of university and competing against marquee names.

Shining lights: world No2 Justin Thomas (l) and world No3 Jordan Spieth (r).

Although DeChambeau may not have placed inside the top-10 at Majors – with two top-25 finishes at the Masters and US Open – he is still a thrilling prospect who has the chance to light up the world stage for the next decade.

In Dustin Johnson, America have the best player in the word. Despite not winning a major since the US Open in 2016, DJ has had the rest of the field dancing to his own tune for over 60 weeks – holding a grip on top spot since February 2017.

Johnson may be an elder lemon at 33 but has proven his consistency week in week out – with Rahm and Thomas coming closest to dethroning his long run.

There’s no doubt that Fowler, Thomas, Koepka and Reed will continue to win tournaments and challenge at Majors, with hope of other youngsters stepping up at various points of the year.

Class acts: Brooks Koepka (l) and Rickie Fowler (r).

On talent alone, Spieth is the driving force of golf in the States for the foreseeable future.

Putting may not be his strongest suit at the moment (he is currently ranked 185th on strokes gained: putting on the PGA Tour), but the Texan has the composure, confidence and in-game intelligence to be a menace at the big events.

In a time where golf seems to be relying on the much-heralded and hoped for ‘return of Tiger Woods’ to bail them out of the general disinterest shown towards the sport, they need to look at a figure like Spieth as their true saviour.

He may not be the most exciting character to listen to in post-round interviews but he’s 24, consistent and has already won three majors in three years – with another five top-5 finishes to add to that since 2014.

It’s a healthy argument to have and definitely adds to the interest ahead of not only the other three Major championships over the next four months but the Ryder Cup at the end of September in Paris.

American golf is in a dominant place.

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Rory McIlroy confident he can conquer Augusta after missing out on Masters title

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Rory McIlroy believes he will win the Masters title he needs to complete the career grand slam despite letting his best chance to date slip away.

McIlroy began the final round three shots off the lead and closed to within a shot of eventual winner Patrick Reed after two holes, but faded badly

with a closing 74 at Augusta National.

And although it was not the collapse of 2011, when he enjoyed a four-shot lead

after 54 holes before crashing to a closing 80, the Northern Irishman could be

forgiven for wondering if his place in history will remain elusive.

“I played probably some of the best golf I’ve ever played here, it just wasn’t meant to be,” McIlroy said. “Of course it’s frustrating and it’s hard to take any positives from it right now, but at least I put myself in a position, that’s all I’ve wanted to do.

“For the last four years I’ve had top 10s but I haven’t been close enough to the lead. Today I got myself there, I didn’t quite do enough but I’ll still come back next year and try again.

“I think 100% I can come back and win here. I’ve played in two final groups in the last seven years, I’ve had five top 10s, I play this golf course well. I just haven’t played it well enough at the right times.

“The putter let me down a little bit, I just wasn’t quite as trusting as I was the first few days and that made a big difference. I was trying to hit good shots and good putts and anytime I felt like I hit a good shot I got myself on the wrong side of the pin or gave myself a tricky one down the hill.

“Then when I did get some chances I didn’t take advantage of them. It was a tough day and hopefully I’ll be better next time.

“It was like every time I took a step forward I took a step back on the next hole. I had a chance to maybe put a bit more pressure on him than I did and I’d say three and five are the ones that I’d look back on and if I could have made pars there it could have been a different story.”

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