Bjorn and "less keen" Harrington leave the way clear for Clarke

Paul McGinley and Padraig Harrington during the Sunday singles matches. Picture

Pádraig Harrington wants to play in the 2016 Ryder Cup but he admits that he was so daunted by Paul McGinley’s sensational captaincy that he is now “less keen” to be captain himself.

Harrington was called in at the 11th hour to be one of McGinley’s five assistants at Gleneagles but having once believed the vice-captains were on “a jolly” he had his eyes opened as to the huge level of commitment required from the man who leads Europe.

Taking himself out the running for the captaincy at Hazeltine in Minnesota in two years’ time, Harrington agreed that Darren Clarke, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Thomas Bjorn were among the top candidates for 2016, adding: “Not me anyway.”

With Clarke's close friend Bjorn also likely to try and retain his place — he will be 45 in September 2016 — there appears to be no real opposition to the Dungannon man right now.

Confessing he was hugely impressed by the work McGinley carried out by behind the scenes, Harrington said: “There were a lot of things that the captain had to do. I don't think anybody who is in not in that position can understand the decisions that are made behind the scenes.

Padraig Harrington, Paul McGinley and Jose Maria Olazabal at Gleneagles. 

“There is a lot of domino effects to decisions; knock-on effects and things like that. There were just a lot of decisions full stop. My head is swimming a bit at the moment so I can’t even explain it now."

While he still wants to be captain, Harrington admitted: "I’m less keen than I was before. It does make you less keen. It is a lot harder than you think. There is a lot goes on. 

“As good a captain as Paul was, at one stage in the singles it looked as if it could have turned against him. It is tough. There was a stage where we were struggling to find our four and a half points. I really felt for Paul at that stage. 

“He was a great captain and I’m thrilled for him but if he had lost it wouldn’t have been the same. History looks at captains who were poor and won, and said they were great. 

“Other captains who weren't great have won and other captains who were good have lost and they are regarded as not being good captains. So I am absolutely thrilled for Paul.”

Insisting he is no more determined to make the 2016 team than he was before Gleneagles, Harrington said: “This doesn't give me any motivation whatsoever to be on the team. I was already motivated. This doesn't change my mindset in the least.”

Clarke is already the odds on favourite for the 2016 job with the bookies with Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell publicly backing him for the job.

The new captain will be chosen by the three immediate past captains — McGinley, Jose Maria Olazabal and Colin Montgomerie — with the input of European Tour Chief Executive George O'Grady and a nominee from the Players Committee.

Current Players Committee chairman Bjorn made his return to the team after a 12 year absence and he hinted that not only was also out of the running for the 2016 captaincy but the decision of the three former captains on the 2016 job would almost certainly be accepted without question.

"The thinking [on the new system] was that if the three past captains agree well then nobody else should really have a say," he said at Gleneagles on Monday. "They know what it takes so, if they can agree, we will (ratify it). Let’s let this one settle before we start thinking about that."

Thomas Bjorn wants to play in another Ryder Cup. Picture Thos Caffrey,

As for Captain Bjorn 2016, the big Dane says he's now keen to keep playing.

"When you play in one, it is hard to see how you could go straight from playing into captaining," Bjorn said. "There are a lot of choices for good captaincies for the future."

How about Bjorn for Paris in 2018? 

Asked, 'How's your French?' he laughed and said: "It will have to improve I think."

As for McDowell calling on McGinley to settle his differences with Clarke following their fraught battle for the job this year, Bjorn does not see McGinley as the kind of man who will hold a grudge.

"Paul sees the bigger picture," Bjorn said. "I don’t think he will let emotions or personal things come into it. That is not the way I see Paul at all. He has no personal thing. 

"Darren and Paul have been friends for so long, they will put that to bed at some stage. I think Paul has just been focussed on doing this job and Darren goes about doing his things. In time, everything will be fine." 

Whatever about the change in the McGinley-Clarke dynamic, the European captaincy has been changed forever by McGinley's incredible attention to detail in dealing not just with the modern player but with his entourage.

"He’s rewritten how it is done and I think that not taking away from the captains we have had, and a lot of them have been great and successful, there is a new generation of players that has to be dealt with," Bjorn said.

"A lot of the guys we have had have taken after Tony [Jacklin] and Bernard [Gallacher] and they way they did it. It was very much a team of individuals who were very tight. Now they come with coaches (and entourages) and that’s the way they work. That’s the way they work the best.  

"As a captain you have got to embrace all those things that the players come with today. And Paul has, to be honest, been the first one that has really spoken to everybody around the players as well and not just the players. There are a lot of things he has done this week that are different to what we have been used to seeing."

McGinley's work in this regard was epitomised by the decision to sit Henrik Stenson in the foursomes on Satruday afternoon and send Justin Rose out with Kaymer. 

"When he made a decision not to play Henrik on Saturday afternoon, he spoke to everyone around him — his coach, his physio, his caddie, Henrik himself. He spoke to everybody...

"In fairness, we could have lost this week and he still would have been a brilliant captain. But then everyone would have questioned him and why he did this and why he did that

"That’s just the way it is. The players have to perform, and there were certain players this week who were brilliant. We talk a lot about Lee and Poults but if you look at the last two Ryder Cups, Justin has been unbelievable. He was at Medinah as well and might not have got enough credit for it, but he was unbelievable. His attitude and the way he goes about things...  he just goes and does it. He was magnificent."

Just as partnering Rose and Stenson was a calculated gamble, so was the partnership between Rory McIlroy and Sergio Garcia.

"Yeah and they got off to a rough start," Bjorn said. "Everybody was thinking, this was our Phil and Tiger pairing and that always carries a danger. But they were so keen to play together they carried it through.

"When it came down to it, both of them came through. Both of them might have felt a little bit overwhelmed by the whole thing the first day but when it came down to it they both knuckled down and got it done.... Rory yesterday was unbelievable."