Pádraig Harrington believes the United States’ desperation to win a first Ryder Cup since 2008 is “the greatest compliment” to European golf.
A three-time Ryder Cup winner from five appearances for Europe between 1999 and 2008, Harrington will reprise his 2014 role as a vice-captain to Darren Clarke this week at Hazeltine National in Minnesota as the Americans bid to end a run of three successive defeats.
Team USA have lost eight of the last 10 Ryder Cups, their wins on home soil in 1999 at Brookline and 2008 at Valhalla their only highlights in a period of European dominance. The lack of success, culminating in a 16.5 to 11.5 defeat at Gleneagles two years ago that saw veteran player Phil Mickelson publicly lambast US captain Tom Watson during the losers’ press conference, sent the PGA of America back to the drawing board, forming a task force in an attempt to stop the rot.
That, to Harrington’s mind, is to the credit of the Europeans and the three-time major champion said: “They’ve still won more Ryder Cups than we have. The greatest thing the European players have done, the European Tour has done is we’ve pushed the Americans into really caring about the Ryder Cup. The Ryder Cup is a big deal, and they really care about it. I saw the players after the last Ryder Cup and they were devastated, especially the older guys People don’t understand how much they care about it and how much they want to win and that’s the greatest compliment to the European Tour and the European players.”
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