Ryder Cup 2021: Ian Poulter defends Padraig Harrington after record defeat

Criticism of Padraig Harrington’s captaincy in Europe’s 19-9 drubbing in the 43rd Ryder Cup is “unfair”, according to Ian Poulter.

Ian Poulter congratulates US captain Steve Stricker on the home side's 19-9 win at Whistling Straits. Picture: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images.

The Englishman jumped to Harrington’s defence in the wake of Europe suffering a record-breaking defeat at the hands of Steve Stricker’s side at Whistling Straits.

The win was recorded by the strongest-ever side on paper to compete in the event and Poulter reckons the European captain shouldn’t receive any flak.

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“You know what, Paddy has done an amazing job,” he said. “Paddy and (wife) Caroline have given us a team atmosphere, an incredible bonding team room. That team room and the group of players we have this week are special guys.

It’s not fair when you look at that scoreline and the toughest bit about all of this is that this is going to be hard because Paddy is going to be questioned and that’s not fair.

“Paddy has done a great job this week. We got outplayed and to Paddy and what he has given to his captaincy, he has done a really nice job.”

Poulter retained his unbeaten record in the singles on his seventh appearance in the event with a win over Tony Finau, but the Europeans simply couldn’t stop a red tide over the three days.

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“It’s tough,” he added. “You put a point on the board and that’s all very nice, but that doesn’t mean anything.

“Okay, I’m unbeaten in singles, which is nice personally, but this is a team week and it’s deflating and it’s hard.

“I wanted to come here this week and give everything and the first two days I didn’t manage to do anything, so today was to give something back. But you just don’t know if you’ll get the opportunity to go again.”

The next match is in Rome in two years’ time before the 2025 contest at Bethpage Black in New York, with Poulter having been strongly touted for the captaincy on that occasion.

“We’ve got a good young team,” he insisted of the Europeans being left to pick up the pieces on this occasion.

“We’ve got a team of young players that are going to take this forward for many years and, as a senior player in the team, you don’t really think there are many more left.”

As was the case with all of his team-mates, Poulter was quick to heap praise on Stricker’s side for their performance in Wisconsin.

“Congrats to Team USA,” he said. “You know, when you look at the points they’ve outplayed us this week. They owned each of those sessions on Friday and Saturday and that’s something that’s not always been the case.

“And, when we are left with kind of a mountain to climb, it’s going to be tough. You always want to feel you’ve got a chance and we needed to come out unbelievably strong.

“They made it tough. They played better than us this week and all credit to the US team.

“It was never supposed to be easy. It was always going to be loud this week with very few of our fans in here and it was tough.”

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