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Padraig Harrington wants quick decision on Ryder Cup captaincy

 

By Phil Casey

Padraig Harrington believes a neutral figure should be put in charge of course set-up for the Ryder Cup - and would like a decision made sooner rather than later as to who will captain Europe.

Three-time Major winner Harrington is the odds-on favourite to succeed Thomas Bjorn as Ryder Cup captain as Europe seek to defend the trophy they won in emphatic fashion in Paris at Whistling Straits in 2020.

It promises to be a tough task as home advantage takes on increasing significance, with Europe's win in 2012 the only success by an away side in the last seven biennial contests against the United States.

"It is called the Miracle of Medinah," Harrington joked ahead of the Turkish Airlines Open which starts tomorrow.

"It's not impossible to win away, but it does give a distinct advantage to the home team."

Asked if the set-up of Ryder Cup venues should be taken out of the hands of the home captain, Harrington added: "I think down the road, yes.

"At Hazeltine (in 2016) they just knew. They had a stats guy come in and he said we make more birdies than the Europeans, make this into a birdie-fest and we should win. We knew going into France, make par be very precious and Europe will have an advantage and it proved that way. I don't see that changing.

"I might have started the conversation off, but it will take 20, 30, 40 years to move to a neutral set-up."

The good news for Harrington, if he does indeed become captain for 2020, is twofold.

Firstly, he believes that home advantage could be partially negated by the nature of Whistling Straits, and secondly his style of captaincy is likely to resemble that of Bernhard Langer, who led Europe to a record victory at Oakland Hills in 2004.

"For whoever is captain next time, I think the American players aren't that happy that it's at Whistling Straits," Harrington added.

"They know they'd have a better chance of winning the Ryder Cup if they went back to a Hazeltine-style golf course, rather than going to a links-style course in the States.

"The players are very aware they would have an advantage over the Europeans at their traditional-style golf courses. While they will try to set Whistling Straits up to suit them, from our side we hope they don't have as much wiggle room as they did with the likes of Hazeltine.

"Home advantage is a distinct factor. Thankfully, whoever is the captain the next time round is playing at Whistling Straits, which is a European-style golf course. Let's face it; if we were going to Riviera it would be so hard for Europe to win on that style of course; US to the bone.

"(They should) just turn up at Hazeltine every year, it's a pretty guaranteed win there, it gives such an advantage."

Harrington was at pains to point out that he is not taking anything for granted in terms of the captaincy, especially as he knows of two other names in the hat for the role, with fellow 2018 vice-captain Robert Karlsson understood to be among the contenders.

But he would like the decision to be made relatively soon, despite Bjorn feeling there is no need to rush into naming his successor.

"I keep getting asked and I'm trying to say it hasn't been decided, but once you start talking about it eventually it starts looking like I think I am," Harrington added. "It puts me in an awkward position so I'd prefer the clarity.

"I understand what Thomas is saying in that it is a distraction, but being the captain in the States is different to being the captain in Europe. In Europe you're heavily involved in the set up of the course and different things. It's 18 months of your life."

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