Padraig Harrington, Europe’s newly-selected Ryder Cup Captain for 2020, has a long and storied history in golf’s greatest team event. Hear we look back at a selection of his stand-out moments for Europe as both a player and a vice-captain.
- Holing ‘the winning putt’ on debut
After four years as a professional, and with a sole European Tour win under his belt, Harrington qualified for his first Ryder Cup in 1999 and contributed a respectable 1.5 points from three matches at Brookline.
It was so nearly a dream debut for the Irishman, though, as after he beat Mark O'Meara 1UP in the Sunday singles – to take Europe’s points tally to 13-10 – the then-28 year old rookie believed he had holed the decisive putt.
“We finished on 18 and I thought I’d closed the match out, and that I had won The Ryder Cup,” Harrington told the European Tour’s Life On Tour Podcast, presented by Hilton. “I’ve never been on a high like it. I was buzzing. I did a very quick interview and Olazábal was 4UP, so at the time I felt like it was given to us.
“I didn’t really know much of what was going on. I say I ran down the 18th fairway to the 17th green – I actually glided – and I never touched the ground. I got there and everybody congratulated me, then I sat down – the crowd settled – and Justin Leonard holed that putt.
“It was probably ten minutes, but it felt like for a minute I had won The Ryder Cup.”
A moment to remember, but inevitably a false dawn on this occasion. But, there would be plenty of success in store for the Irishman in the biennial event.
- Beating Woods and Mickelson
Out first for Europe in 2004 at Oakland Hills Country Club, Harrington joined forces with Colin Montgomerie to take on the world’s two leading players – Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson.
Paired together for the first time, Woods and Mickelson combined well and were five under through the 17 holes played – but were no match for Harrington and Montgomerie.
In that game the European heavyweights carded seven birdies on the par-70 South Course, casting aside the highly-regarded duo 2&1.
Harrington would go on to play a starring role in an 18 ½ - 9 ½ victory, earning four points from five matches in what is still Europe’s largest-ever margin of victory in the history of the competition – equalled in 2006 at the K Club.
- Winning on home soil
Harrington qualified for a fourth straight Ryder Cup in 2006, which was held in his home country, Ireland.
While he did not have the easiest time at the K Club, where he returned half a point from five matches, he was part of a formidable European side who crushed their American counterparts with a record-equalling 18 ½ - 9 ½ win.
Arm in arm with countrymen Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley, the enduring image from the event is the trio draped in the Irish flag – a fitting way to celebrate victory in the first, and only, Ryder Cup held on the island of Ireland.
- Final Captain’s pick for Celtic Manor
By 2010 Harrington had become a three-time Major Champion with 25 professional titles to his name.
But after missing out on automatic qualification for the first time in ten years, a few eyebrows were raised when Montgomerie, a previous Ryder Cup partner, chose him as the final pick for his 12-man side for Wales.
"Padraig is playing the best golf of my team out there,” Montgomerie told reporters during the first official practice day at Celtic Manor Resort.
Harrington would go on to repay the faith his former team mate showed in him by registering two valuable points which helped ensure that Europe won by the narrowest of margins – a memorable 14 ½ to 13 ½ triumph.
- Triumphing with 'the perfect team' in Paris
From formidable player to key advisor, since his last playing appearance in 2010 Harrington’s influence has continued to be felt off the course in his role as a vice-captain – notably during last year’s Ryder Cup in Paris.
Alongside Lee Westwood, Graeme McDowell, Robert Karlsson and Luke Donald – all former team mates – Harrington helped guide Thomas Bjørn’s charges to glory at Le Golf National.
Widely praised by the rest of the team for the reassurance and advice he gave to rookie Thorbjørn Olesen, Harrington played a key role in what he described as the ideal back-room team in what was his third appearance as a vice-captain.
"The back-room team was perfect and I thought the vice-captains had a great mix,” he said. “There was enough emotion in the vice-captains and then there was Robert Karlsson crunching the numbers.
"There was also great balance in the players. We had fourball players and foursomes players and we didn't have to hide anybody."