Harrington set to assist Clarke in Ryder Cup: "Yes, we have discussed it”

Harrington set to assist Clarke in Ryder Cup: "Yes, we have discussed it”

Pádraig Harrington has all but admitted that he will be a Ryder Cup backroom boy for Darren Clarke in September.

As he prepared to defend his Honda Classic title at PGA National in Florida this week, the 44-year old conceded that he needs to win at least twice this year to have any chance of winning his sixth Ryder Cup cap as a player in Minnesota

But having acted as an assistant to pal Paul McGinley at Gleneagles two years ago, he admitted that he’s already chatted with 2016 skipper Clarke about filling a crucial backroom role at Hazeltine.

“It’s like the Olympics,” Harrington said of his chances of making Clarke’s team as a player. “If I starting winning and playing well, both the Ryder Cup and the Olympics are on the radar. 

“As much I would like to play in both, they’re long shots, real long shots. So I wouldn’t be putting any money on making the team.

“And if I’m not in the team then I would love to be there as part of Darren’s back room team.

“Yes, I have spoken to him and yes, we have discussed it.”

With Paul Lawrie, José María Olazábal, Thomas Bjorn, Lee Westwood and/or Ian Poulter also believed to be on Clarke’s vice-captaincy short list. Harrington believes he would be called upon to fill gaps that Clarke can’t fill himself.

“I think I am a different personality and will probably bring a slightly different aspect to it,” he said. 

“I am different in that  Darren is emotional and if I am there, I will bring more managerial stuff. He is definitely a front man.”

The three-time major winner has made no secret of the fact that he “would love to be a Ryder Cup captain down the road.”

But in common with his role with McGinley, who banned him from speaking to he press at Gleneagles by telling him, “‘I don't want you going off on any of your weird rants,” he knows that he will be required to remain on message for Clarke.

“I think that is a good thing,” Harrington said. "That’s his position to dictate how the team is seen during the Ryder Cup. He doesn’t want anybody throwing something out there that he has to make a recovery from or explain, even if it is on the good side. 

“It is up to him to be the front man and decide who the image is going to play out in the media, how much he plays at being an underdog or being  favourite. That’s his job to dictate that. The only reason anybody in the backroom team should be speaking should be to toe the party line.” 

As for Clarke’s qualities as a captain, Harrington reckons he will surprise a few people with his meticulousness.

“Darren plays up to being the larger than life guy but behind the scenes he works really hard - a lot harder than people think. 

“He will leave no stone unturned to get a good job done. This big vivacious guy we see is a bit of a front. Behind the scenes, he is a very, very hard worker.”