Would Pádraig Harrington make a good Ryder Cup captain?

Would Pádraig Harrington make a good Ryder Cup captain?
 Pádraig Harrington watches the European team practice at Gleneagles. 28 September 2014. Picture David Lloyd,  www.golffile.ie

Pádraig Harrington watches the European team practice at Gleneagles. 28 September 2014. Picture David Lloyd, www.golffile.ie

Padraig Harrington will bring another trying season to a close in Indonesia next week, bidding to win for the first time anywhere since 2010 and change the dynamic for 2015.

His slide to 375th in the world from a career high of third has been well documented and at the age of 43, it’s not surprising that he’s expressed an interest in captaining the European Ryder Cup team in the near future having publicly backed Darren Clarke to take over from Paul McGinley in 2016. 

Whether it's 2018 in Paris or 2020 in the US, Harrington certainly has all the credentials you could ask of a European skipper — six appearances (including four wins) as a player and a successful vice-captaincy to boot.

Would Pádraig Harrington make a good Ryder Cup captain?
 
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Last week, the Dubliner finished second in the Gary Player Invitational Pro-Am presented by Coca-Cola, leading a team that featured Ladies European Tour rookie Amy Boulden and business leaders Jochi and Wilfried Sauerland.

He's also been successful in other team formats, winning the Walker Cup in 1995, the World Cup with McGinley in 1997 and the Seve Trophy three times. 

He’s been successful in many pro-ams in the past, winning the Alfred Dunhill Links and Pebble Beach versions with JP McManus. So one has to wonder if he would be successful managing not one but 12 personalities in the cauldron of the Ryder Cup.

Padraig reads the game incredibly well. He’s got great insight. He reads body language, he reads people and he reads competitiveness.
— Paul McGinley on Pádraig Harrington

“I love pro-ams. I love marshaling the troops,” Harrington said in South Africa last week. “I’ve won a few major tournament pro-ams, and I think it’s because I like the sideshow it brings. It’s a good distraction for me to watch the amateurs figure out why they play the game that they do, where they could improve. I’m fascinated by it.”

Harrington was an assistant to European Ryder Cup captain McGinley at Gleneagles in September and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. He has also helped the Great Britain and Ireland Walker Cup team captain Nigel Edwards, the Dublin gaelic football team and many other sports stars by giving generously of his time and experience.

McGinley certainly found him invaluable at Gleneagles, as he explained recently.

“Padraig reads the game incredibly well,” McGInley said of his former Ryder Cup partner. “He’s got great insight. He reads body language, he reads people and he reads competitiveness. And where padraig brought a lot to me was reading body language.

“If I wanted to know anything about the American team, not that I focussed much on them, he was my go to man for the US team, and also the course set up in terms of tweaking it at the start of the week. If something needed to be done Padraig played a big part in the final preparations of the  golf course.

“We all agreed, based on Pádraig’s opinion, that we just need to take down the rough a little bit. It was a little bit higher than we wanted, a little bit thicker and lusher than we wanted  and Pádraig played that part.” 

 Pádraig Harrington shares a joke with Des Smyth at Gleneagles. Picture Eoin Clarke,  www.golffile.ie

Pádraig Harrington shares a joke with Des Smyth at Gleneagles. Picture Eoin Clarke, www.golffile.ie

Barring a late change of heart, Harrington will not be leading Europe at Hazeltine in 2016 but he's one of several good candidates for Paris in 2018, when he will be 47, or the Irish Course at Whistling Straits in 2020, when he'll be 49.

He certainly showed another side to his character at Gleneagles, where he was not under pressure to worry about his own game and could relax and interact more with the other players.

As he pointed out to Paul Kimmage in the Sunday Independent recently, he's a many-faceted person.

It doesn't seem that confusing to me. I suppose my failing is that I tell people, 'This is who I am' and I can't shy away from it. I mean, the amount of people who said to me after the Ryder Cup, 'Wow! You were just a completely different person' (laughs). But that's actually who I am.
PK: Who said it to you?
PH: Several people.
PK: Players?
PH: Yeah.
PK: They found you a different person?
PH: Yeah, they had no idea. A good example is Graeme McDowell; he walks out of physio the first night and says, 'Harrington is after telling two jokes!' Stephen Gallacher was the same: 'Jeeze, you're a different person this week.' And I'm thinking, 'No, no, that's really who I am.' I suppose it's because every other time they see me I'm playing and in a serious environment but being vice-captain was different. Being vice-captain would make me want to retire I loved it so much.