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Europe’s next Ryder Cup Captain

Thursday, December 6, 2018
Europe’s next Ryder Cup Captain

Former Reuters golf correspondent Tony Jimenez spoke to Tony about Europe's next choice for Ryder Cup Captain.

We're expecting an announcement soon on the next European Ryder Cup captain for the matches at Whistling Straits in 2020 and it seems as though Padraig Harrington is nailed on for the role.

Padraig is a three-time major winner with great playing experience on both sides of the pond, he's an amiable guy, a deep thinker, a character, and he's the obvious choice.

Hopefully there won't be anything to stop him picking the wildcards he wants, and he doesn't have to contend with what Darren Clarke went through at Hazeltine in 2016 when he was without two stellar performers in Paul Casey and Russell Knox.

The US-based Casey was ranked 12th in the world but did not have European Tour membership and was therefore ineligible for the team. Knox, who was also playing most of his golf in the States, was overlooked despite being 19th in the rankings.

It is vitally important that a Ryder Cup captain is still on the tour, mixing it with the players on a week-to-week basis. I didn't realise 35 years ago, when I got the job for the first time, that the committee thought it should be a reward for a senior player, an elder statesman.

Eric Brown was a generation on from the players when he was captain in 1969 and 1971, Bernard Hunt was the same in 1973 and 1975, likewise John Jacobs in 1979 and 1981.

It was Bernhard Langer who convinced the committee in 1983 that the captain should be someone who was closer to the players. At that time I was 38, 39 and, although I had stopped playing competitively a year earlier, I was doing TV work and was close to a lot of the players and knew what was going on.

We do it the right way now. We give the captaincy to people who are coming towards the end of their playing careers. It looks like Lee Westwood will follow on from Padraig for the 2022 matches in Italy and he's also made a great contribution to European golf.

Inevitably someone will eventually get overlooked for the job because only one man can do it any one time. But the benefit we have now is that we can also honour players for past services by electing them as vice-captains. We didn't have quite so many deputies back in my era. 

It is so important the captain is fully in tune with his players, though. I remember in 2014 that Langer was a candidate for a wildcard pick even though he was in his mid-50s.

He was performing so brilliantly consistently on the seniors tour that, if I had been in charge, I probably would have selected him. However, the majority of the players thought it was important to have someone younger, someone more of their own age group, and he missed out.

Padraig is fully in tune with all the big guns. He's well liked, he's still out there playing on both tours, he's in touch with all of the contenders for the team and I'm sure he'll do a first-class job.