The race for the next European Ryder Cup captain appears to be down to two men, after Padraig Harrington withdrew himself from consideration for the 2016 gig.
“No, I’m not thinking of putting my hat in the ring for it at all,” he said in this recent interview. “Not at this time. There are plenty of other good candidates.”
Harrington was one of five vice captains who served under Paul McGinley during the Europeans’ five-point victory last week at Gleneagles.
It’s a matter of when, not if, Harrington will assume the lead role, perhaps as early as 2018 in France. The 43-year-old Irishman, who compiled a 7-11-3 career mark in five cups as a player, is a three-time major winner and one of the most well-liked and respected players in Europe. Winless since the 2008 PGA, he has dropped outside the top 300 in the world.
“Hopefully one day I’ll put my hat in the ring and hopefully I’ll get the captaincy at some stage,” he said. “We’ll see about that, but certainly not in 2016. There’s plenty of other good candidates there, and we’ll leave it up to them.”
Chief among them are Darren Clarke and Miguel Angel Jimenez.
World No. 1 Rory McIlroy, one of the most influential players in helping McGinley ascend to the captaincy in January 2013, backed Clarke last week in an interview with the BBC and again Wednesday at St. Andrews. He referred to Clarke as the “perfect man to lead the team (at Hazeltine).”
The 2016 captain will likely be determined at year’s end by a panel of the past three captains (Colin Montgomerie, Jose Maria Olazabal and McGinley), a player from the tournament committee and European Tour chief executive George O’Grady.