Three-time major winner Padraig Harrington will succeed Thomas Bjorn and captain the European Ryder Cup team, which will defend the title at Whistling Straits in 2020.
Harrington was a vice-captain of the European team which regained the Ryder Cup in 2018 with a 17.5-10.5 victory over the United States at Le Golf National in Paris, and was also part of the backroom team in the 2014 and 2016 Ryder Cups. He also featured six editions of the bi-annual contest as a player.
Europe have followed a familiar path of promoting from within the camp with Harrington as the resounding choice of last year’s vice-captains to lead the European team into battle at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin with Luke Donald and Lee Westwood having been other potential candidates.
“I’ve won three majors in my career but taking the Ryder Cup captaincy is a different level,” Harrington said. “I want to find an edge to get the players to perform to best of their abilities and hopefully get a win.
“I’m really conscious that I have to find the edge and add to it. It’s going to take a great deal of my time over the next two years to do it.
“It seems to be a natural progression and it feels like the right time in my career. But just because it seems like the right time, I didn’t think I should just come in and do it. I thought long and hard about it.”
Harrington, who won the USPGA Championship in 2008 as well as back-to-back Open Championships in 2007 and 2008, was on the winning side in four of the six Ryder Cups he featured in as a player.
Harrington first stepped into a vice-captaincy role in 2014 as he helped the Paul McGinley-led European team to victory at Gleneagles. He was also an aide of Darren Clarke two years later when the United States won 17-11 at Hazeltine, one of only two defeats in the last nine Ryder Cups for Team Europe.
When he selects his side for the defense of the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits, he will be bidding to avoid a repeat of the defeat in the last trip across the Atlantic.
“It’s possibly easier to be Ryder Cup captain at home, but I realise it was good timing in my career and probably the best chance for the team in an international setting, going to the US having me as captain at this time,” Harrington added.
“I have the support of the players, then it really came down to whether I wanted to be in the hat. I’m putting it on the line—we know when you’re a successful Ryder Cup captain it’s great and a losing captain—it’s his fault.”
Harrington’s opposite number is not yet known but both Fred Couples and Wisconsin-born Steve Stricker are rumoured to be in the frame to be named as the United States team captain for 2020 as a successor to Jim Furyk.