How Renaissance man Padraig Harrington ignored the scars of the Ryder Cup

Here, starring in Alfred Dunhill a year ago, he began to include Harrington for the rest of his life.

Former Ryder Cup captain. 75 Rusty at Carnoustie. raw. bruising; But he was not completely afraid.

Heavy Ryder Cup defeats can be shocking events for the losing captains who have dedicated two years — in Harrington’s case, three years — to grabbing that 17-inch cup.

Remember Hal Sutton?

In 2004, Sutton presided over an 18.5-9.5 American loss to Europe in the Oakland Hills. It was and still is a record defeat for America and any host in the Ryder Cup.

Nobody played well for the United States that week. But sport being a sport, and America being the favourite, a scapegoat was sought, duly found and immediately tied up.

Sutton, the 1983 PGA Champion, countered his decision to pair Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson twice on the opening day of the tournament.

The theory was sound: the best golfers in the world lead the team abroad. Early focus for a boisterous crowd at home.

Woods and Mickelson were shedding their flaky rivalry in the name of Team America. Everything else will take the lead.

But the hatred was real. The chemistry was toxic. Golf was sad.

and everyone she did Take the lead.

Tiger and Phil were beaten 2&1 by Harrington and Colin Montgomery in the morning, and then, after Sutton doubled in the afternoon, lost one at 18 to Darren Clarke and Lee Westwood.

Sutton, disgusted with how the week unraveled and stinged by the highly personal nature of criticism, then retreated to his Louisiana home and effectively quit golf. He was only 46 years old.

Harrington found himself in a slightly different situation only this very week last year when he returned to the ranks of the Tour proletariat.

Europe’s margin of defeat was half a point worse than America’s in 2004. However, drawing a straight line of blame from score to leader wasn’t that easy.

The mitigation was clear: the most powerful American team ever assembled; the devastating effects of the epidemic; Whistling Straights minimal travel support.

But mostly, as Harrington later explained, America learned team golf the hard way. And as a reward for their education, his European team was given boots.

“They are now doing everything we’ve been taught,” said Harrington, after he arrived in Scotland.

“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 brought to an advantage, they have now. They do what we do.”

Earlier this year, American golf writer Shane Ryan published a book about the 2021 Ryder Cup. You can interpret its title, The cup can not lose, Literally.

In it, he explores how the United States has been recast, after the trauma at Gleneagles in 2014, culminating in Mickelson’s infamous flogging of venerable old Tom Watson, and the entire U.S. Ryder Cup process from qualifying to leadership, to how the team prepares. .

In Whistling Straights, those recalibrated conditions unleashed the fierce potential of a team of eight of the world’s top 10 players.

Other than Harrington’s decision to send his players into seemingly random groups during training, although he settled on duos long before, it was hard to question any of his decisions.

Quoting from the book, he appears to have felt some personal regret afterwards: “When I thought about the job, I was afraid that I would be able to give the players what they needed… Can I introduce myself? And I think I did… I think I gave everyone an experience.” The Ryder Cup is as good as it’s ever been.”

It would be hard to argue with that.

Last year was Rory McIlroy’s sixth Ryder Cup. He’s won four times, but was in tears on Sunday at the Whistling Straights, ostensibly more emotional than any of the others.

“It’s been a tough week,” he said, “but the more I played in this event, the more I realized it was the best event in golf, bar any event.”

Last week, on the enormous popularity No lying down Podcaster Shane Lowry, a freshman in Wisconsin, said he’d “make tea if I had to” if it meant being a part of another Ryder Cup.

Regretfully or not, Harrington has moved into another phase of his epic sporting life with a healthy sense of perspective.

On Saturday, speaking at Minnehaha Country Club in Sioux Falls, South Dakota – the last glamorous leg of the PGA Champions Tour – he was asked if he intended to continue playing on the golf course in 10 years.

His performances on that run point to a player who moved quickly from last year’s Ryder Cup score. Last week, the 51-year-old won his third title of the year, adding the Ascension Charity Classic to his victories at the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open and the US Senior Open. To date, Harrington has made over $2.5 million with the most lucrative event to come. But his answer to the question on Saturday removed all doubt.
“If they move me when I’m 80 to wave to the fans, I’ll show up,” Harrington said. “The only thing I know is what I’ve done in my career…I will enjoy it.

“If I see these show matches when I’m 80, or 70, or whatever my age, where I can’t compete on the ground, I’ll go out and wave to the crowds enjoying what I’ve done in my career.

“There’s no way I wouldn’t take my time and enjoy it.”

Until then, Harrington had been in a kind of halfway between the PGA Tour champions, winning three times in eight, and the main tours.

Most athletes will gladly accept the golden golf handshake, and the silver-plated pension plan.

Between 2007, when he turned 50, and 2021, when he won his sixth Charles Schwab Cup title (effectively the PGA Tour Champions’ Medal of Merit), Bernhard Langer won more than $30 million on the Seniors Tour.

Or, to put that into context, more than triple what he earned in 324 starts on the PGA Tour.

But the suspicion with Harrington is that, deep down, he suspects he can still break it off with the youth. Maybe even win again.

“It just intensifies the competition in my game,” he said.

“There is a huge difference. You play most weeks in the regular round, you finish there in the 20th and 30th, and you don’t learn anywhere near as much as you do by finishing a shot or two back.”


Last year, Mickelson won a PGA race on Kiawah Island at the age of 50. All golf games rose to announce the scale of the achievement.

Harrington, a year younger, was three shots behind in fourth.

After turning down Wentworth in favor of Missouri last week, Harrington admitted he retains a disturbing competitive curiosity.

“I really want to try it against the guys,” he said.

“But I’ve kind of been doing it this week. I have to sit back and wonder am I not ready, or am I really out?”

ever think. ever analyzed.

Pádraig Harrington’s latest era will be no less compelling than the rest.