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Padraig Harrington prefers 12 picks over Ryder Cup postponement

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Postponing the Ryder Cup isn’t a palatable option to Padraig Harrington – and he seems willing to embrace a radical solution if needed.

The European Ryder Cup captain told the Daily Mail on Tuesday that the benefit of staging the biennial team event in late September – assuming it’s safe at the time to do so – supersedes the potential headaches of a faulty qualifying system.

“We’re playing on, if at all possible, because the merit of getting out there and showcasing our sport far outweighs a perfect qualifying system,” Harrington said, according to the report. “It wouldn’t worry me if we were the first tournament back and I had to go with 12 picks with no qualifying.

“In many ways, it would be perfect if the Ryder Cup was the first tournament back. Just 12 guys from Europe and 12 from America, with no prize money at stake and competing just for glory? Wouldn’t that be a nice way for sport to start back?”

A corona-Ryder plea: Make everyone a captain's pick

If the Ryder Cup qualification process is unraveling, why have one at all? Put the onus Steve Stricker and Padraig Harrington to pick their 12.

The current system calls for Harrington to have three captain’s picks for his 12-man roster, while his American counterpart, Steve Stricker, has four wildcard selections.

“We might have to think about more picks,” Harrington told the Daily Mail. “It might be easier, so we don’t miss anyone. Literally, nothing is off the table right now, including 12 picks.”

As we outlined in this piece last week, the Ryder Cup qualifying systems on both the U.S. and European sides will be heavily compromised with golf on hiatus through at least mid-May (and likely much longer). That has prompted some European players to call for a one-year postponement of the matches, to 2021, so the qualifying process is more equitable.

Last month, the Telegraph reported that the Ryder Cup was set to be pushed back a year, only for the PGA of America to deny that speculation and Harrington to call it “made-up stuff.” More clarity is expected in the coming weeks.

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been immense across all sports, and the golf calendar figures to get condensed this summer and fall if they’re able to resume competition. So far, the Masters and the PGA Championship have been postponed, while the U.S. Open (in New York) and Open Championship (in England) both seem destined for a new date, as well.

So, what will take precedence: rescheduling the majors or playing the Ryder Cup, set for Sept. 25-27 at Whistling Straits?

“I have an inside track regarding the Ryder Cup,” Harrington told the Daily Mail, “and I can tell you our date is set in stone and the other authorities are working around us. But I’m not privy to other details. ... Right now, though, wouldn’t we all just love to be worrying about such a hectic playing schedule?”