Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington heaps praise on 'fighter' Bob MacIntyre

European captain Padraig Harrington has delivered a glowing assessment of Bob MacIntyre as the young Scot bids to make his team for the rescheduled Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits in September.

Padraig Harrington and Bob MacIntyre during the second round of last week's Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship. Picture: Andrew Redington/Getty Images.

MacIntyre, who recorded his breakthrough European Tour win in the Cyprus Showdown in November, played alongside Harrington in the opening two rounds in last week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship.

The 24-year-old from Oban got off to a poor start as he dropped three shots in his first seven holes before sparking a gutsy recovery that set up a top-20 finish in the Rolex Series event.

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“He's definitely a good enough player to make the Ryder Cup team,” said Harrington, speaking as he prepared for the Omega Dubai Desert Classic, the second leg of the circuit’s Middle East Swing.

“He's one of the future players of the European Tour. It could be his time in the next eight, nine months, there's no doubt about it.

“From a statistical point of view and from a personality point of view, he's kind of a hearty fella, which you want. He's a tough customer. He's a fighter.

“He gets it done, which is very important when it comes to match play, and we've already looked at the stats and he's very, very balanced, so actually would work very well in different formats, foursomes, fourballs.“As a rookie, he needs to play himself really tight to the team obviously. You won't be picking a rookie 16th or 17th or whatever.

“But, if he's there or thereabouts, he's a player you would be very happy to have on the team based on the way he plays golf and also on his personality.

“You put him out anywhere in a match, and talking to him, he likes that. He has that little bit of, I won't say he has a chip on his shoulder, but he certainly fights like he has a little bit of a point to prove.”

Scottish-based Frenchman Victor Perez was the third member of that group in Abu Dhabi last week, with Harrington admitting he has virtually clinched one of his four automatic spots already.

Perez got his bid off to a flying start when winning the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship in October 2019 and has backed that up with some strong performances in Rolex Series events.

“He’s almost there with his points,” said Harrington of Perez, as well as European No 1 Lee Westwood. "The work he's done (before the points were frozen last season due to the Covid-19 lockdown), that hasn't been thrown away.”

One player definitely guaranteed a place in the 12-man team that will be defending the trophy in Wisconsin is Tyrrell Hatton, who has risen to No 5 in the world after his latest big win in Abu Dhabi.

“He’s everything you'd want in a player,” said Harrington of the Englishman. “There are obviously plenty of good golfers out there, but Tyrrell does seem to have it when he comes under pressure on the big occasions with big players staring him down, like he was going against Rory last week and going against Tommy Fleetwood.

“He's a Ryder Cup captain's dream. That's exactly what you want, a player that has that gumption and can really get it done.“Even though he's won four times over the last year, they have been nicely spread out and it’s not flash-in-the-pan stuff. He keeps delivering.

“He was very impressive with his win in Bay Hill (in the Arnold Palmer Invitational) last year I thought down the stretch and again he proved it last week.

“Rory [McIlroy] took an early lead, and it would have been easy for Tyrrell to play nicely and think, I can finish second or third’, but he took that tournament by the scruff of the neck.

“From a captain's point of view it was very impressive. That's the sort of stuff I'd like to see all my players doing.”

The 43rd Ryder Cup had been due to be played last September before a decision was taken to push it back 12 months when it became apparent that no fans would be in attendance due to the coronavirus.The world is still gripped by the pandemic, with only a small number of patrons being allowed to attend The Masters in Apri, but Harrington says the biennial event will definitely go ahead this autumn, even if that means it is being played behind closed doors.

“As a captain, it's above my pay grade, and it's just about getting my team ready,” said the three-time major winner. “But I don't believe there is wiggle room for pushing this back. It's full steam ahead.“Last March, we were planning to go full steam ahead and deal with all contingencies as they came along. We are in the same boat now, but I'm an optimist, and I believe we will be good to go in a capacity for sure that the players will want to be there and enjoy it.”

Harrington has already named Robert Karlsson, who is playing alongside McIntyre in the opening two rounds in Dubai, and Luke Donald as vice-captains and already has a good idea of how he’d like to see the other spots filled.

“Id’ say that there's definitely one up for grabs. There's a few that are waiting on how the players play, but I think when you look at my vice captains, there's three more to come,” he said.

“They will all be based on players who are playing and who don't make the team. There's nothing coming out of left field.

“It's players who are senior players who still have a chance of making it into the team, and if they don't make it on the team, will be included as vice captains.”

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