The European Ryder Cup team will be captained by three-time major champion Padraig Harrington next year at Whistling Straits.
The announcement was made on Tuesday at the European Tour headquarters at Wentworth that the Irishman would take over for the victorious — and recently-tattooed — Thomas Bjorn. Harrington has been a playing member of six European Ryder Cup teams and he’s been a vice captain for the last three biennial matches.
“Obviously I’m thrilled to be named as the captain for 2020,” Harrington said, according to GolfChannel.com. “It’s not something I went into lightly. I suppose you could look at this as being a natural progression, you move on from player to vice captain to captain. But it’s not something that I take on without a certain amount of trepidation.
“It really came down to whether I wanted to be in the hat and put what is a successful career, put it on the line. Because you are putting it on the line when you become a Ryder Cup captain. It is a different element to your career. We know a successful captain is great, and a losing captain, you know, it’s his fault. So I am putting something on the line going out there.”
— Ryder Cup Europe (@RyderCupEurope) January 8, 2019
Harrington has been rumored to be the next captain for the European side for months, and he made news late last year saying that the 2020 venue puts the United States team at a disadvantage.
“Home (course) advantage is a distinct factor in The Ryder Cup,” Harrington said in November prior to being officially named captain. “Thankfully, whoever is the captain next time around, is playing at Whistling Straits, which is a European-style golf course. It’s as good a golf course to go to for (the Europeans), let’s face it. If we were going to Riviera, that would be so hard for the Europeans to win on that style of golf course, just U.S. to the bone there.
“There’s so many golf courses that they could go to in the States. They should just turn up in Hazeltine every year, their cup of tea and gives (them) such an advantage. Whistling Straits, at that time of year, hopefully, it will be cold and windy for whoever is captain (of Team Europe).”
Even with the matches some 20 months away, the anticipation and game planning has already begun for Harrington, who will play competitively on the PGA Tour in 2019 after using his one-time exemption for being top-50 in career earnings.
“I know we’re going to a new venue. It’s an away match,” Harrington said. “We’re going to have, on average, three more rookies coming into the team and I have to be a part of that team and ensure that I find an edge to make the team perform to the best of their abilities, get the most out of them, and hopefully get a win.”
The American side is expected to tap Steve Stricker for their captain in the coming months.