Tuesday, 14 May 2019
Padraig Harrington   (Getty Images)
Padraig Harrington (Getty Images)

Padraig Harrington is already casting his eye on potential Ryder Cup stars as the 2020 European Captain tees it up at Bethpage State Park BK Course.

The 47-year-old will be leading Team Europe at Whistling Straits between September 25-27 next year and the three time Major Championship winner has already been to Wisconsin to start sorting some of the logistics ahead of Europe's title defence.

However, Harrington is relishing the challenge between his off the course activities while trying to make a charge on it - starting with the event he won in 2008 for the last of his three Major Championships.

"I enjoy that in my head I'm kind of trying to play golf maybe for the next year and leave the duty of administration in the background, and then with six months to go, you're kind of getting deeper into it," Harrington said.

"Even at this stage, I'm looking at the potential players - not the top players, those guys look after themselves.

"I'm looking at the guys who are unheralded at the moment who are coming through, who will be rookies in my team and just trying to get a feel for who they are, what sort of personalities. The likelihood is there will be two guys in the team that are rookies.

"I've been vice captain three times, two of those occasions I've sat in on quite a bit of the selection of the picks.

"I'll have a better feel come September when I'm playing more in European events to get a better feel for who these young players are."

Questions were raised when Harrington opted for three wild card picks for the biennial event and Irishman explained his reasoning behind the decision.

"I'm giving myself more choices than there was when I started out in the Ryder Cup," he said. "It used to be two, then it went to three, then it went to four.

"My opinion on this matter is that players who qualify tend to be more confident and assured of their place in the team than players who are selected. Having qualified and being selected over the years, I certainly felt that and from talking to other players, I feel that.

Even at this stage, I'm looking at the potential players - Padraig Harrington

"When you qualify, you've qualified on merit, you deserve to be there and it takes a little bit of the stress and pressure off.

"It's highly unlikely that I wouldn't want the ninth player in the team. I believe if he's in the team, I will select three guys to complement that ninth player and the other eight players in the team.

"I want the ninth guy to be in automatically. That's essentially what my thinking is."

Harrington has struggled with a wrist injury and he admitted it has not been ideal preparation for the second Major of the season.

"I'm coming off a broken wrist during the winter," he said. "It's still not 100 percent, but it doesn't seem to be interfering too much with my golf. I'd like to have played a bit more coming into this week.

"The goal for every major is to turn up and feel ready on the Monday, be prepared. I think circumstances have led to me just not feeling like that. I really feel like it's the start of the year for me."

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