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SPORT

“The Ryder Cup is unlike any other event” – Pádraig Harrington talks to EDGAR

Words by Rob Chilton

Players, pressure, and Ryder Cup memories

On the eve of the Ryder Cup, European team captain Pádraig Harrington spoke to EDGAR about why the famously dramatic golf tournament has been part of his imagination since he was a boy.

What is your first Ryder Cup memory as a kid?

We are very fortunate in Ireland to have a rich history with the Ryder Cup and some of my earliest memories of the contest are of my fellow countrymen such as Eamonn Darcy beating Ben Crenshaw on the last hole at Muirfield Village in 1987 which helped Europe win in the United States for the first time, and Christy O’Connor Jnr two years later at The Belfry hitting that career-defining two iron into the final green to beat Fred Couples and help Europe retain the trophy with a 14-14 tie. Those are certainly great memories.

Christy O’Connor Jnr makes Ryder Cup history at The Belfry in 1989

What’s the toughest hole at Whistling Straits?

The Ryder Cup is unlike any other event in golf, not least for the fact that the pressure you feel on the first tee of your match is the same, and in some cases, greater than the pressure you feel when you are coming down the back nine of a Major with a chance of victory. Because of that, every hole on a Ryder Cup golf course is tough but the ones coming down the stretch, from the 14th through the 18th, with the chance of a point for your team on the line, will be very demanding.

Where does being a Ryder Cup captain rank in your career in terms of achievement?

To be selected by your peers to take on this role is humbling and a great honour. Obviously, in terms of achievement, the answer to that depends on the eventual result which is one of the differences between being Ryder Cup Captain and say, for example, a football manager. As a football manager, if you lose, there is always next week to put it right; for a Ryder Cup Captain it is a one-shot deal. Regardless of the result, however, I am fortunate to have achieved a lot in the game personally, including having won three Major Championships, some 30 professional tournaments around the world, and a few team events, including the World Cup of Golf for Ireland alongside Paul McGinley in 1997 and, of course, the Ryder Cup four times as a player. I am incredibly proud of all those achievements.

Harrington celebrates with Graeme McDowell after clinching the Ryder Cup in 2010

What will you say to the players on the eve of the competition?

It will not surprise you to learn that the precise details of what I will say to the players before they go out to face the United States will remain between myself and them, but in general terms I will remind them of just how good they are to have made the team in the first place and urge them to go out and show everyone precisely why they are the best in Europe.

How much input did you have in the Loro Piana uniforms?

I gave my opinions in the early stages of the collaboration on both the overall design in terms of playability, and also in terms of the colours to be used. I must say I am very happy with the outcome of both of these elements.

Loro Piana have designed the kit for the European Ryder Cup team

How important is clothing to a successful round of golf?

As with anything you do in life, if you look and feel good about your appearance, the likelihood is that whatever you are doing, you will do it well. It is no different in golf.

The Ryder Cup, September 24-26

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