Harrington named by McGinley as a Ryder Cup vice-captain

‘Pádraig is my oldest friend on tour, a guy I have known most of my life’

As a brief distraction to his own game, Pádraig Harrington's appointment yesterday as one of five vice-captains to Paul McGinley for the Ryder Cup later this month was timely. The Dubliner – a three-time Major champion but currently languishing in 287th in the latest world rankings and down in 97th in the Race to Dubai – will now seek to bring such good vibes into his game in the Omega European Masters, which starts in the alpine setting of Crans-sur-Sierre today.

“Not having made the team, this is the next best thing,” said Harrington, who also admitted that he would love the chance one day to be a captain in his own right. “Absolutely, I’d be interested in it. Part of being a vice-captain really is finding out whether you’re suitable to do it. It’s a different job being a captain than being a player.

“Being a player, it’s quite a selfish thing. It’s all about you. The captaincy is about man-managing 12 people, being able to get on with all 12 of them and organise things, it’s a different sort of scenario. My record might say ‘yeah, I look like being a captain’, but being a vice-captain and getting in behind the scenes will tell me a lot more and tell the people in the know if I’m the right man to do the job.”

In acknowledging that traditional discussions between himself and McGinley tended to feature a lot of “to-ing and fro-ing”, Harrington accepted: “This time around, I will have to be more supportive of Paul and not go against him so much.”


Harrington has been added to McGinley's team of vice-captains, along with Jose Maria Olazabal – captain of the winning team at Medinah two years ago – and Miguel Angel Jimenez. The trio join Des Smyth and Sam Torrance, another former captain, in comprising an impressively strong backroom team.

Biennial match

Having played in six Ryder Cups, most recently at Celtic Manor in 2010, Harrington is appreciative of what he calls the “genuinely unique event” that the biennial match between


and the

United States

represents. “We play as individuals all year and we’re competing against each other tooth and nail all year and then suddenly there is a serious bonding that week, a serious team element to it. It is amazing how well the Europeans have gelled over the years.”

With Europe – who currently include four of the top-five players in the world rankings in their team – installed as favourites, Harrington warned that the Americans would use the underdogs tag as an incentive. "There is a lot of talent in their team and they have the ability to pull together. Phil Mickelson will be the undisputed number one in the team room and will take a leadership role and that will help their team . . . we have got to be very wary of them."

McGinley has decided to follow Colin Montgomerie’s lead at Celtic Manor four years ago in using five vice-captains due to what he called the “additional workload” that comes with being the home team. His decision to bring Harrington on to his team was not a huge surprise.

‘Oldest friend’

“Pádraig is my oldest friend on tour, a guy I have known most of my life . . . we went to school (in Rathfarnham), came through the amateur ranks together and have been together in many contests for both


and Europe over the years. I know what he can bring to the team room.”

Harrington will have his own playing cap on in Switzerland this week, as he seeks to turn around his season. The Dubliner is one of seven Irish players in the field at the €2.3 million tournament, along with Shane Lowry, Darren Clarke, Michael Hoey, Simon Thornton, Gareth Maybin and Peter Lawrie.

Three members of Europe's Ryder Cup team are competing in the Swiss Alps: Thomas Bjorn, Jamie Donaldson – winner of the Czech Masters a fortnight ago – and Victor Dubuisson. Bjorn is a two-time winner and defending champion of the tournament.

“I have got a good eye for this golf course. I love the place and in return it has been pretty kind to me down the years. That doesn’t count for anything once the tournament starts though,” said the Dane.

Philip Reid

Philip Reid

Philip Reid is Golf Correspondent of The Irish Times