Padraig Harrington: Americans copied Europe's Ryder Cup blueprint

Padraig Harrington reckons the Americans copied Europe’s blueprint for success to deliver their record-breaking 19-9 win in the 43rd Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits.

Padraig Harrington tees off at Carnoustie in the first round the 20th Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. Picture: Matthew Lewis/Getty Images).

Speaking for the first time since arriving home from Wisconsin at the start of the week, the Irishman said Steve Stricker’s side had used a tried-and-tested European template to get the best out of the strongest group of individuals to compete in the biennial match in a team environment.

“They do everything we’ve learned,” said Harrington after playing at Carnoustie in his opening round in the 20th Alfred Dunhill Links Championship. “We’ve taught them a thing or two over the last 20 years. They’ve caught on. Every little bit of innovation that Europe has introduced to make an edge, they have now.

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“Even down to trying to put their weakest pairs against our strongest. That’s another statistical way of doing things. All the little niches were there. They do what we do. Plus, they were a pretty good team to come up against.”

Europe had won nine out of 12 matches prior to this one, with some people now predicting a lengthy spell of domination in the biennial contest.

“There’s no need to panic,” insisted Harrington, who had to settle for a three-over 75 on his return to playing action alongside Shane Lowry, one of his players at Whistling Straits. “As strong as they are, time is a great leveller. There are always ebbs and flows.

“We just have to do more of the same. We don’t need to change anything. That’s key. Two years is a long time in golf. We could be in the ascendency by then.

“They are on a right peak at the moment. To have so many players right at the top of the world rankings is not something we’ve seen for a long time.

“But, in two years’ time, that might not be the case. We’ve been very successful in Europe so why would you change anything? We should just keep going forward with what we’re doing.”

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Despite claims to the contrary, the Europeans will hold a debriefing as part of the process for the 2023 match at Marco Simone Golf Club in Rome.

“But it’s not based on the competitive side,” said Harrington, who will help pick his successor, with Lee Westwood tipped as a strong favourite. It is more about the organisational side.

“I assume any competitive debrief will be with the next captain. He’ll ask, if he wasn’t there last week and involved as a vice-captain.”

The Americans haven’t won on European soil since 1993 and Harrington said it is going to be interesting to see if they show the same commitment in two years’ time, with Stricker having managed to persuade most of his players to pay a visit to Whistling Strait in advance of last week’s match.

“The golf course may be the only edge we have going forward now, because they have everything,” said the three-time major winner. “But they kind of put themselves in a hole now, do they travel the week before to Italy, go over and practice, can they get them all to go? Is that the commitment they have for this Ryder Cup.”

Asked how he felt personally now the dust had settled, Harrington replied: “I'm okay. But I'm the sort of person who'd like everybody to know exactly what happened and went on.”

“Did you not see the US guys putting their weakest group against our best group? People say why didn't you play Sergio Garcia on Friday afternoon. 12 does not go into eight, he was a pick and, at the end, he played nicely, did exactly what we wanted, we led with him the whole weekend.

“But, on the first day, you've got to give everyone a chance to play and see what you have out there.”

Harrington’s Ryder Cup career has now seen him involved in Europe’s biggest wins - in 2004 and 2006 - and now the biggest defeat.

“I did what I needed to do in the team room,” he replied to being asked about his legacy in the event. “The fact that my players are happy is all that counts for me.

“I was so worried that I wouldn’t do a good job. That’s the pressure and stress. But there is nothing we could have done differently.

“My team gave 100 percent pulling together. There’s nothing more I could have asked from them. From my perspective, I’m very comfortable saying there is nothing more we could have done. That was just the way it is.”

Lowry opened with a 71 at Carnoustie, where the two other European players in this week’s event quickly shrugged off their Ryder Cup disappointment.

Two-time Dunhill Links winner Tyrrell Hatton stormed home in 29 as he carded a brilliant eight-under 64, which earned him a share of the lead, while Tommy Fleetwood, the course-record holder at the Angus venue, is also handily-placed after signing for a 66.

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