KIERAN SHANNON: Pádraig Harrington isn’t just one of our greatest ever sportspeople — he represents the best of us

For something widely described as the worst-kept secret in golf, Pádraig Harrington’s eventual unveiling as Europe’s next Ryder Cup captain surprised us in just how pleasant and important a reminder it was of what a special golf nation this is, and what a special sportsperson Harrington is.

During Sky Sports’ coverage, they mentioned several times that three of the last four European captaincies have now been bequeathed to an Irishman. Trawl through the record books and it’s an even more stunning trend.

Only England has had more European Ryder Cup captains since the competition was opened to the whole continent 40 years ago; they’ve had four, in Jacobs, Jacklin, James, and Faldo. Scotland has had three in Gallacher, Torrance, and Monty. The Spanish have had two in Seve and Ollie. The rest between them have also only had two, in Langer and Bjorn — one less than this little island now has in McGinley, Clarke, and Harrington.

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