Why Padraig Harrington will take inspiration from Colin Montgomerie in Ryder Cup

Padraig Harrington is aiming to “mirror” Colin Montgomerie’s Ryder Cup captaincy later this month, having felt the Scot did a “brilliant job” when leading Europe to victory at Celtic Manor in 2010.

Padraig Harrington, left, pictured alongside Colin Montgomerie back in 2008.
Padraig Harrington, left, pictured alongside Colin Montgomerie back in 2008.

The Irishman will be trying to tap in to a wealth of experience from all the captains he either played under or worked alongside in the biennial event, believing that Bernhard Langer, another winning skipper at Oakland Hills in 2014, is the closest to him in terms of “personality”.

However, Harrington was particularly praiseworthy of the job performed by Montgomerie in Wales, where the format was changed mid-match due to bad weather but the Europeans adapted brilliantly to come out on top.

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“I think Monty was the first time he made his team believe they were better than the US team, especially when it came to playing everybody the same day,” said Harrington, speaking at Wentworth, where the qualifying race for the 2021 edition concludes at the end of this week’s BMW PGA Championship.

“He came in and made it look, ‘we decided that. It's our decision. We are going to do this because we are better than them, 12 against 12’. That was impressive.

“Monty took all of the good of the past, put it together and left nothing. Got rid of whatever wasn't working. I think that was really a very important one. So that would certainly be one to mirror.”

Nine automatic spots for the 43rd edition at Whistling Straits will be determined in this week’s Rolex Series event at the Surrey venue, where Harrington will also announce his three captain’s picks on Sunday night.

Ian Poulter and Sergio Garcia look good bets for two of those berths, with Justin Rose, Henrik Stenson, Francesco Molinari, Bernd Wiesberger, Bob MacIntyre, Victor Perez and Rasmus Hojgaard among a posse of players in contention for the remaining berth up for grabs.

“There's certainly six that as it sits at the moment,” replied Harrington to being asked how many players were actually under consideration.

“Maybe even more than six in terms of playing well this week that really affect it, and then obviously have a good few who could push their way into the team.

"Right now, I think I would have three in mind. But I think there are players who could really cause a bit of a fuss this week, cause a bit of drama.

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“The picks are about picking three players who complement the nine guys who qualify, and who match up well with those guys and bring balance to the team where it's needed.”

Garcia, Europe’s record all-time points scorer, is not playing at Wentworth, but Harrington said he is comfortable with the Spaniard’s decision after making it all the way to the season-ending Tour Championship in the US.

“He knows where he sits with it,” said Harrington. “It's a better decision for him in terms of resting up and getting ready for it if he's in the team. “But it does put a bit of risk in there.”

Harrington will be bidding to complete a European double on US soil after watching Catriona Matthew’s side retain the Solheim Cup with a brilliant 15-13 victory over the Amerians in Toledo on Monday.

“Momentum. Inspiration. What's not to take?” said the three-time major winner of Europe winning that event for just the second time on US soil.

“I was watching it and I was thrilled the way they went about it, how they did it, the win. It definitely helps us. You want all the momentum you can get for us as the Ryder Cup team.

“Let's be honest, they won fair and square. There was no luck involved. Sometimes you might think, ‘oh, did they get lucky to win?’ It wasn't the case, and that's the sort of momentum that we would be looking for.

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“I tried to learn as much as I could, even copying a few things from the speech (laughing).”

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