Three-time major winner Padraig Harrington believes he is putting his career on the line by taking on the Ryder Cup captaincy in 2020.
Harrington won the Open Championship in 2007 and successfully defended the title the following year, before winning the US PGA Championship just three weeks later.
However, the 47-year-old is well aware of the damage a Ryder Cup defeat can do to a captain’s reputation having played under six-time major winner Sir Nick Faldo in Europe’s defeat at Valhalla in 2008.
“It’s something I did think long and hard about,” Harrington said during a press conference to announce his appointment at the European Tour’s headquarters at Wentworth.
“It’s possibly easier to be Ryder Cup captain at home, but I realise it was good timing in my career and probably the best chance for the team in an international setting, going to the US having me as captain at this time.
“Then it really came down to whether I wanted to be in the hat and put what is a successful career on the line. It is a different element to your career and we know a successful captain is great and a losing captain, it’s his fault. I am putting something on the line going out there.
“I’m well aware that it’s win or nothing, that’s the way it goes. You go out there and win and you’re a successful captain; you lose, you’re not. I’m aware that I could have passed up on this and just kept on going as a nice tournament golfer.
“When you’re a Ryder Cup captain, you’re putting the history of your game – your legacy – on the line.”
Harrington has served as a vice-captain at the last three Ryder Cups and appeared in the biennial contest against the United States six times as a player, beginning at Brookline in 1999. He was on the winning team in 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2010.
He succeeds Thomas Bjorn as captain for next year’s contest at Whistling Straits, where Europe will be bidding to defend the trophy won in convincing fashion in Paris in September.
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Europe captain Thomas Bjorn is convinced Rory McIlroy will thrive on the responsibility of going out first in Sunday’s decisive singles at the Ryder Cup.
Former world number one McIlroy has had a mixed event so far but Bjorn has no doubt the Northern Irishman can set the right tempo for the trophy-chasing European side.
The home side take a 10-6 lead into Sunday’s 12 matches and need to claim four and a half points to triumph at Le Golf National in Paris.
McIlroy will face Justin Thomas in the opening match, Thomas and Jordan Spieth having beaten McIlroy and Ian Poulter 4&3 in the Saturday foursomes.
“There’s a lot of reasons to send Rory out first,” Bjorn said. “He’s a fantastic player. He likes to play fast. He doesn’t like to be held up. He likes responsibility.
“He feels like he’s in a place where he can go into that position and get the best out of himself. I have a lot of belief in him, and I trust him as a player, but also trust him very much as a person.
“So it’s a great place for him to be with responsibility.”
After McIlroy and Thomas get the action under way at 11.05am BST, Paul Casey will tackle Brooks Koepka, Justin Rose will face Webb Simpson and Jon Rahm will go up against Tiger Woods. Both Woods and Rahm will be searching for their first point of the competition.
Tommy Fleetwood and Francesco Molinari, who can become the first European players to compile a perfect 5-0 record in the ryder cup, will take on Tony Finau and Phil Mickelson in matches five and nine respectively.
“I went with this set-up because of personalities and the way I see them,” Bjorn added. “And I went with this group of guys in this order because I think it covers all the way through the order.
“That American line-up was always going to be extremely strong and it doesn’t matter; we need to win our points. They can come from any match.”
— Ryder Cup Europe (@RyderCupEurope) September 29, 2018
If it goes down to the final match, all the focus will fall on Europe’s Alex Noren and America’s Bryson DeChambeau.
United States captain Jim Furyk is confident Thomas can get his side’s attempts to fight back off to a flying start in the opening match.
Alongside Spieth, in-form rookie Thomas has won three of his four matches in the competition.
Furyk said: “You know, we want to get out to a fast start. That’s key, it’s imperative, everyone knows it.
“Any time a team’s come back from four points, it’s been a fast start and a solid middle to late part of the line-up.
“Right now we’ve got a feisty guy in Justin Thomas leading us off. He’s kind of a little spark plug.”
Rory McIlroy and Thorbjorn Olesen lost 4&2 to Dustin Johnson and Rickie Fowler
The concerns over McIlroy’s form coming into the event proved not to be without foundation as the Northern Irishman was the only man of all the morning players not to register a birdie. His wedge play and putting was never up to scratch and that placed a lot of pressure on rookie Olesen, who drove his opening tee shot into the water. They were lucky Johnson missed a three-footer to win the hole. Europe made the first move when Olesen won the short eighth with a par-three but the Dane then found water again at the ninth and with McIlroy unable to advance his ball far from deep rough they dropped the first of four holes in five to go three down and the match was eventually conceded on the 16th when Johnson hit it close.
Europe 0 United States 1
Justin Rose and Jon Rahm lost by 1 hole to Brooks Koepka and Tony Finau
Rose was given the task of playing the first match for the third Ryder Cup in succession and responded in a style befitting a man who birdied the 72nd hole of the Tour Championship on Sunday to win £7.6million. A superb approach to the first set up a tap-in birdie and although Finau chipped in for an eagle on the sixth, the American rookie drove out of bounds on the next before Rahm’s birdie on the eighth doubled the lead. Koepka’s chip in on the 11th was immediately followed by an even better one from Rose, but Koepka’s birdie on the 13th was followed by a massive stroke of luck on the 16th, where Finau’s water-bound tee shot hit a wooden sleeper on the edge of the hazard and bounced to within three feet of the hole. Rose then found the water with his approach to the 18th and the American pair had pulled off an unlikely win.
Europe 0 United States 2
Paul Casey and Tyrrell Hatton lost by 1 hole to Jordan Spieth and Justin Thomas
The all-English pairing faced a daunting task against good friends Spieth and Thomas, two men who have both been ranked world number one, and Spieth made a flying start by almost holing his approach to the first. The three-time major winner also added birdies on the third, fifth, sixth and seventh before Thomas got in on the act with a birdie on the par-five ninth
Casey birdied the ninth and 10th simply to limit the damage and made it four in a row on 11 and 12 to close the gap, before Hatton’s birdie on the 13th remarkably got them back on level terms. However, Thomas birdied the daunting 15th to edge the Americans back in front and that proved decisive.
— Ryder Cup Europe (@RyderCupEurope) September 28, 2018
Europe 0 United States 3
Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood won 3&1 against Patrick Reed and Tiger Woods
Much was made of Woods’ renaissance but his play was nowhere near the level which helped him win his first event in five years at the Tour Championship on Sunday.
It began badly for the USA when Reed dumped his approach at the first into water, and Molinari birdied from eight feet. Woods levelled things up without even having to attempt a short birdie putt with the Europeans both in the same bunker.
Sand trouble for the Americans at the fourth saw Fleetwood hit an eight-iron to four feet at the fourth to put them ahead again, but they lost the seventh after failing to make par.
The long ninth also went the way of the USA after Fleetwood and Molinari both criminally failed to make par. Reed’s chip-in birdie at the 10th put them two up before Molinari holed a 20-footer at the next to reduce the deficit.
At the 15th Molinari and Reed put their approaches into the water and with Woods having to lay up out of the rough, Fleetwood birdied from the fringe.
Reed flirted with the water at the next while Woods went in it and Fleetwood holed a monster putt across the green to go one up. With the American pair failing to find the 17th green in regulation, Open champion Molinari birdied
Overall Score: Europe 1 United States 3