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Harrington ‘putting legacy on line’ as Ryder Cup captain

Padraig Harrington has been unveiled as the next Team Europe Ryder Cup captain. Credit: PA

Three-time major winner Padraig Harrington says he realises he is putting his legacy on the line by taking the Ryder Cup captaincy for Team Europe in 2020.

The 47-year-old Dubliner was unveiled as the successor to Denmark’s Thomas Bjørn at a press conference at the European Tour’s headquarters at Wentworth on Tuesday.

Having played under six-time major winner Sir Nick Faldo in Europe’s defeat at Valhalla in 2008, Harrington is well aware of the damage a Ryder Cup defeat can do to a captain’s reputation.

While thrilled to be appointed, he admitted: “It’s something I did think long and hard about.

“Then it really came down to whether I wanted to be in the hat and put what is a successful career on the line.

“It is a different element to your career and we know a successful captain is great and a losing captain, it's his fault. I am putting something on the line going out there.”

When you’re a Ryder Cup captain, you’re putting the history of your game - your legacy - on the line.

– Padraig Harrington

Harrington has served as a vice-captain at the last three Ryder Cups and appeared in the biennial contest against the United States six times as a player, beginning at Brookline in 1999.

He was on the winning team in 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2010.

He will take up the reins as captain for next year’s contest at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, where Europe will be bidding to defend the trophy won in convincing fashion in Paris in September.

Harrington, who is currently out of action after slipping on the stairs at home over Christmas and breaking a bone in his wrist, was a popular choice to take on the captaincy.

He became a near-certainty when Lee Westwood announced he did not want to be considered for the role, preferring to target Italy in 2022.

“It does make my job easier that I feel I have the confidence of the players,” Harrington added.

“There’s no doubt I’m excited with the whole idea. We’ve had some great captains and I’ve learnt from all of them.

“But it is daunting because you want to do a good job. Thomas has left it in a very strong place.

“I will try and bring that all together and hopefully say the right things at the right time and get the best out of that team that provides a winning performance.”