Padraig Harrington admits being a vice-captain in this year’s Ryder Cup will tell him if he his cut out to lead a European team himself in the future.
Harrington, Jose Maria Olazabal and Miguel Angel Jimenez were named as Paul McGinley’s final three assistants earlier today, joining Des Smyth and Sam Torrance on the backroom staff for Gleneagles.
Olazabal was captain for the ’Miracle at Medinah’ in 2012 but Harrington and Jimenez are both candidates to fulfil the role in years to come, along with the likes of Darren Clarke and Thomas Bjorn.
Asked if he would be interested in becoming captain, Harrington told Sky Sports News: “Absolutely I’d be interested and part of being a vice-captain is really finding out whether you are suitable to do it.
“It’s a different job being the captain than a player. Being a player is quite a selfish thing, it’s all about you. The captaincy, man-managing 12 people, being able to get on with all of those people and being able to organise things, its a different sort of scenario.
“My record might say yeah, I look like being a future captain, but to be honest being a vice-captain and getting in behind the scenes will tell me a lot more and tell the people in the know a lot more whether I am possibly the right man to do the job.”
Olazabal, Harrington and Jimenez have 17 Ryder Cup appearances between them, while Jimenez was vice-captain to Seve Ballesteros in 1997 and Olazabal two years ago. The 50-year-old was also picked by McGinley to captain the European team in the inaugural EurAsia Cup in March.
McGinley said: “I know it’s been common in the past to have three or four vice-captains but I’ve gone for five because I feel an extra person is justified due to the additional workload which comes from being the home team, in addition to how well I saw such a system working when we ended up having five vice captains under Colin Montgomerie at Celtic Manor in 2010 (Sergio Garcia was a late addition).
“Padraig is my oldest friend on Tour and is a guy I have known most of my life. We went to school together, came through the amateur ranks together and have been together in many contests for both Ireland and Europe over the years, so I know what he can bring to the team room.
“As far as Miguel is concerned, he is someone that the spectators love as well as being very popular with all the players. However, he is also a person that I respect very much. I have sat beside him for over a decade on the Tournament Players’ Committee and have seen him exhibit an integrity on many occasions that is very admirable.
“Finally, Jose Maria’s passion for the Ryder Cup is recognised the world over. It was obvious in his legendary partnership with Seve and was also so very apparent two years ago at Medinah, so I’m delighted he has accepted my invitation to be involved again, once more maintaining that important continuity.”
“I have complete confidence and trust in all five of my vice-captains and the help they will give me in the difficult quest of trying to retain the Ryder Cup.”
Jimenez said: “I thoroughly enjoyed being captain of Europe at the EurAsia Cup which was a great opportunity for me and I am looking forward to bringing the experience I gained there to the team room at Gleneagles. I have a great relationship with all the players, having played alongside them regularly over the years.”
Olazabal added: “Everyone knows how much the Ryder Cup has meant in my career and it’s an occasion that I love being part of. It is a unique and special event - and I know that will be the case once again in Scotland in three weeks’ time.
“I think we have a very good team in place but, as Paul said yesterday, we are under no illusions about how formidable a test the United States team will present. But he knows I will do everything I possibly can to help him and the players throughout the week.”