Dunne hails "thorough" Harrington: "If that team doesn’t win, it won’t be his fault"

Dunne hails "thorough" Harrington: "If that team doesn’t win, it won’t be his fault"
Pádraig Harrington

Pádraig Harrington

Pádraig Harrington might not do warm and fuzzy, but the massive outpouring of goodwill towards Europe’s 2020 captain proves he’s got the charisma to lead a winning Ryder Cup raid in the US.

While he suggests he’s more likely to be a Bernhard Langer, schoolmaster style captain than an arm-around-the-shoulder type like Sam Torrance or Ian Woosnam, a host of players gathered in Hawaii for this week’s Sony Open had nothing but praise for Europe's happy-go-lucky hero.

“He's a gas man,” said fellow Olympian Seamus Power, who resumes his 2019 season at Waialae Country Club in Honolulu.

“He knows everything that is going on with everyone.  He knows everyone's ball speed. There’s nothing he leaves to chance. 

“I remember we played somewhere and he had a two-iron in the bag and I said to his caddie, ‘Jeez Ronan that's a lot of clubs,’ because he had something like 19 clubs in the bag. 

“And Ronan said it had no business being in the bag because he hadn't used it for about ten years. But everything is thought out. Nothing is left to chance.”

Power knows Harrington will give the Ryder Cup captaincy his all, but he isn’t the only European thrilled by his appointment.

“You would assume his attention to detail would be flawless because that’s just the way Padraig is with his own golf game,” England’s Paul Casey told the Golf Channel.

“I’ve never met anybody that seems to be on this quest to find this secret to golf.”

Ian Poulter added: "From the time I’ve spent with him in a team room he’s always listened, and that’s a great thing.”

Paul Dunne, who will return to action in next week’s HSBC Abu Dhabi Championship, believes Harrington will be so well prepared that even if Europe loses, he could become the first captain to escape the blame.

“He is extremely competitive, he’s smart, and he just leaves no stone unturned,” Dunne said. “He even overthinks things, but that’s a benefit in his position.

“If that team doesn’t win, it won’t be his fault. I think he will put everything into it."

Harrington will have his captain’s hat on when he watches the action from Hawaii this week, and he’ll be keen, not just to see how Jordan Spieth performs after a winless 2018, but also to see Power make his 2019 bow.

The West Waterford man (31) kept his card by the skin of his teeth last year, but pointed to his vastly improved final round stroke average as a sign that he’s finally getting comfortable.

“The mental game has been strong,” said Power, who averaged a career-best 69.69 in the final round last year, ranking 34th, compared to 71.32 (which ranked 149th) in 2017.

“It surprised me that it was that bad because I was usually pretty good all through my amateur career in final rounds. Perhaps it was the fact that the stakes were higher. But I've done some work to be ready for that.”

Now working with swing coach Nick Bradley on becoming a more consistent iron player and driver of the ball, Power is hoping he can shake off his winter rust quickly and win on tour.

“The goal is always to win a tournament, but I'm already looking forward to 2019 because with my category, I have better tee times now and more great events to play,” said Power, who was ranked in the top 10 for putting for almost all of last season.

All going well, he’d love to have enough FedEx Cup points on the board to be able to take time out to play the Dubai Duty Free Irish Open at Lahinch, especially if he qualifies for The Open at Royal Portrush a fortnight later.

As for Rory McIlroy, his focus is on the Masters and completing the career Grand Slam rather than his European Tour schedule.

“He's rightly focussed on that, and the Irish Open will come in time,” host Paul McGinley told Newstalk this week.

“When the Masters is done, and he gets into the season, he will review his schedule, and that will be the time to start talking about the Irish Open and see if it's going to be on his radar or not.”

McGinley understands why McIlroy wants to concentrate on the PGA Tour but still wonders if he might have a change of heart and play some Ryder Cup counting events on the European Tour after the FedEx Cup playoffs

"What he's proposing to do is no different to what Nick Faldo did in his career or what Bernhard Langer did in his career," McGinley said.

"There is no doubt that America is the place to go. If you were a top player, why wouldn't you want to go and play for all that money and world ranking points? It's a lot easier to play in America. 

"But we hope he remembers home. He has a huge fan base here, it's where he's from, and as the season goes on, we will see how it all evolves."