Pádraig Harrington had a good reason to belatedly make an appearance here at the BMW PGA Championship – but not as a player!
The 44-year-old Dubliner has been drafted in as a vice-captain by Darren Clarke for Europe's defence of the Ryder Cup against the USA at Hazeltine in September, where he will provide part of the back-up team with Paul Lawrie and Thomas Bjorn.
Although first propositioned about a possible role as vice-captain last year, Harrington was given time to earn his right to get to Hazeltine as a player until what he called “the reality” of that particular goal hit home.
Harrington was also a vice-captain under Paul McGinley at Gleneagles in 2014 and is seen as a future captain in his own right.
“Paul did a great job, he reinvented the wheel to a large extent . . . I am interested to see Darren’s style,” said Harrington. “When he was a player he was very emotional, he led the team in the team-room but I am impressed with Darren’s detail he has put in behind the scenes, leaving no stone unturned. He brought us three guys in for pretty hard, honest opinions which he will get from us.
“Obviously all decisions end with him and he has to make those decisions, but I like what I see. He has got the detail as well as the emotion and sometimes I think Darren gives across the image of the emotional side but he always puts the work in and he is doing that, these last two years he is pretty much living the Ryder Cup and he is trying to leave no stone unturned,” added Harrington.
Clarke said: “I was delighted when Thomas, Pádraig and Paul all accepted the invitation to become Ryder Cup vice-captains. They needed no persuading.
“The three bring a wealth of experience and knowledge and their input will be invaluable to Europe’s cause. I could not have asked for anybody better to be standing shoulder to shoulder with me in the bid to bring the Ryder Cup home.
“I have known and been close to Thomas for many years and I know just how passionate he is about team golf’s greatest competition. He has had a major influence already both on and off the course at previous Ryder Cups and I know that will continue at Hazeltine.
“Pádraig’s outstanding career has included three Major championship successes and his presence in the team room will bring a big confidence factor to Europe’s 12 representatives.
“Paul is a highly respected major championship winner and knows exactly what it will take to reach our intended destination. His calm, considered approach and strength of character will be of immense value.”
Clarke plans to add two additional vice-captains, possibly around the time of the British Open in July. It will be a first vice-captaincy for Lawrie and a fourth for Bjorn.
Davis Love III, the US captain, has named four vice-captains – Tiger Woods, Steve Stricker, Tom Lehman and Jim Furyk in his bid to reclaim a trophy which Europe is seeking to win for a record fourth straight time.