Harrington Looks To Quickly Stamp His Ryder Cup Captaincy Mark

New European Ryder Cup Captain Padraig Harrington has been in the job less than a day and already he is looking to stamp his mark on the 2020 showdown by reducing his number of ‘wildcard’ picks.

Harrington, and as widely predicted, was handed the Whistling Straits captaincy reins earlier this week to remarkably become the third Irishman in the four Ryder Cups to lead Europe.

And if Harrington gets his way, and the Dubliner will, he will not be taking four ‘wildcard’ picks to the shores of Lake Michigan.

It was victorious 2018 European Team captain, Thomas Bjorn who raised the ‘wildcard’ number to four but with Harrington already planning to reduce that number back to two or just three at most.

And prompting this move is Harrington’s ‘concern’ that the ninth automatic qualifier seemingly gets ‘skipped over’ when it comes to a ‘wildcard’ selection.

“I don’t think it has happened and I think players are more comfortable and more confident if they’re qualified directly rather than getting a pick,” he said.

“So, I’d prefer more players to qualify than if I picked them but I will have a look at those stats.  Anecdotally number nine always gets a pick so why let them qualify automatically without needing a pick.”

Padaig Harrington named 2020 Ryder Cup captain (8th Jan 2019) (Photo – Gettys/European Tour)

Ian Poulter was ‘number nine’ on the 2018 European qualifying standings and with Bjorn choosing Poulter, Paul Casey, Henrik Stenson and Sergio Garcia as his picks.

In 2016, Clarke went with three ‘wildcard’ picks and while Russell Knox finished 10th on the standings, and one place shy of automatic selection, Clarke overlooked the Scot in favour of Thomas Pieters, Martin Kaymer and Lee Westwood as his Hazeltine picks.

Paul McGinley had three ‘picks’ in 2014 at Gleneagles and he went for the Number 10 in Scot Stephen Gallacher, No. 12 in Poulter and then all the way down to No. 16 in Westwood.

You have to go back to 2012 when Jose Maria Olazabal was the last European Team captain to have two ‘picks’ and with the Spainard going for the No. 11 and 12 in Poulter and Belgium’s Nicolas Colsaerts.

And Harrington declared Rory McIlroy will be travelling to Whistling Straits no matter what.

It was a question Harrington faced at Tuesday’s announcement about McIlroy’s commitment to the cause after the Northern Irishman recently revealed he may not fulfil the requirements for European Tour membership next season.

Harrington, however, was quick to play down any concerns over the four-time major champion’s commitment to the cause even though the golf world remains unclear if McIlroy has re-joined the European Tour or not.

“I can only look at his actions. That man loves the Ryder Cup. He’s become a leader in the team room,” said Harrington.

“He gives so much to the Ryder Cup; the Ryder Cup gives so much back to Rory that he can’t get anywhere else.

“He gets the glory, the opportunity to be loved on the golf course. He gets the exuberance, the crowd.

“You don’t get that day in, day out. You don’t get that regularly. His actions are all about the Ryder Cup.

“He will be 100 percent behind and in that Ryder Cup team, there’s no doubt about it. You just have to know the man behind the scenes.”



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