Ryder Cup captain Harrington defends Rory McIlroy on Euro Tour comments

Padraig Harrington will succeed Thomas Bjorn as European captain

Padraig Harrington will succeed Thomas Bjorn as European captain

In the least surprising news of 2019 thus far, Padraig Harrington was named captain for the 2020 European Ryder Cup team.

After the last Ryder Cup in Paris, two very prominent members of the European team - Justin Rose and Rory McIlroy - gave their public backing to Padraig Harrington.

Harrington has promised to "find an edge" but it's the United States who are favourites to land the Ryder Cup on home soil at 8/13, with Harrington a 6/4 shot to win the match and defend the trophy the Europeans won so emphatically in Paris a year ago.

His old World Cup-winning team-mate Paul McGinley is seen as having set the template for a modern Ryder Cup captaincy at Gleneagles in 2014, a sixteen-and-a-half to eleven-and-a-half European victory that triggered Mickelson's extraordinary attack on then USA captain Tom Watson.

Speaking at a press conference following the announcement, Harrington expressed his delight at the news.

The Irishman said: 'Obviously I'm thrilled to be named as Ryder Cup captain for 2020, it's not something I went into lightly. I suppose you could look at this as being a natural progression, you move on from player to vice captain to captain. "Hopefully I will pull it together and say the right things at the right times".

I know they want continuity.

The captain has so much more to think about, and the assistant captains play a big part in the decision-making process.

"I'm really conscious that I have to find the edge and add to it". He will be 100 percent behind and in that Ryder Cup team, there's no doubt about it. "It is very important that I have that feeling of support because I have to be a confident captain as much as need 12 confident players". He finished 2018 as the world's 191st-ranked player, his lowest end-of-year ranking since 2014, and it is likely to be even lower when the Ryder Cup rolls around.

But just because it seems like my turn, it's something I thought long and hard about.

With Harrington Europe has continued its model of vice captains serving for a few years before taking the mantle.

Harrington did slip momentarily towards the modern Ryder Cup taste for melodrama yesterday with an observation that he'd be putting his "career on the line" in Wisconsin.

"Steve's a solid bloke", Harrington had said in October.

"It is daunting because you want to do a good job". "Good guy. Tough. Not a man to underestimate".

"Padraig is playing the best golf of my team out there", Montgomerie told reporters during the first official practice day at Celtic Manor Resort.

"He is as European as they come. But there's no messing from his side".

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