Padraig Harrington admits he was ‘selfish’ and ‘ignorant’ as a Ryder Cup player

European captain Padraig Harrington admits he was “selfish” and “ignorant” during his playing days at the Ryder Cup.

The three-time major winner is a veteran of six matches against the United States, winning on four occasions between 1999 and 2010.

Harrington has since experienced the biennial contest as part of the management team, serving as a vice-captain at the last three events ahead of taking full control at Whistling Straits in 2020.

The 47-year-old concedes he was previously naive to the true demands placed on team leaders.

“It is a huge shock, the difference from being a player where you can’t understand why you’re not playing all five matches to being a vice-captain and seeing the different pressures and pulls on the captain’s time,” said Harrington, who was unveiled as Europe’s new captain on Tuesday.

“I just can’t believe I was a player and didn’t know. That’s what fascinates me.

“As a vice-captain I’m sitting there going, ‘God, I was so ignorant to what was really going on behind the scenes’, and so selfish in terms of thinking about what I need and thinking the Ryder Cup revolves around me during the week.

Europe will bid to defend the Ryder Cup next year following September’s victory in Paris (David Davies/PA)

“That’s one of the things you learn.”

Harrington served as a vice-captain at the 2014 win under Paul McGinley at Gleneagles and the 2018 success in Paris led by Thomas Bjorn, as well as 2016’s defeat at Hazeltine under Darren Clarke.

The Irishman plans to call on the knowledge of all three of those former captains in Wisconsin next year but ruled out the possibility of any of them being involved in an official capacity.

He believes it is his responsibility to nurture future European captains and has already said selecting five vice-captains is “a must”.

“I will be relying on Paul, Darren and Thomas and all the other captains, but not officially,” added Harrington, a winner of two Open Championship titles and the US PGA Championship.

“It’s somewhat incumbent now on the captain to bring players in as his vice-captains who are going to be potentially future captains.

“This is no longer, if it ever was, a jolly. It’s not your friends who are coming in as your vice-captains. It’s ex-players you can rely on – my job is to train them for future captains.

“My job is to do what Paul McGinley, Thomas Bjorn and Darren Clarke did for me, bring me into the backroom team to see what happens.”

- Press Association

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