Photo Courtesy of European Tour
With his team having an average age of 34.5, European Ryder Cup captain Padraig Harrington is banking on experience in their away defence of the Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits this week. They will be up against a strong United States side with an average age of below 30, led by Steve Stricker.
“Obviously Europe has a strong team when it comes to experience. That’s quite relevant when you’re playing an away match. If you had two players, one experienced and one not of equal ability, certainly in an away match, you would be looking for experience. I’m very comfortable that my team is that experienced. It will be interesting,” noted Harrington after arriving in Wisconsin with his players.
“As I say, at the end of the week the experience versus the non-experience will be thrashed out many times to determine what the result was. Certainly, it’s pretty tried and tested in Europe that we’re going to go with experience when we’re coming across here. We do have a few rookies on the team to provide that enthusiasm but we are strongly relying on that experience,” he added.
Harrington had to use his captain’s picks to get Ryder Cup stalwarts Ian Poulter (age 45) and Sergio Garcia (age 41) into his side, along with 2019 Open champion Shane Lowry (34). The trio join automatic qualifiers Paul Casey (44), Matt Fitzpatrick (27), Tommy Fleetwood (30), Tyrrell Hatton (29), Victor Hovland (23), Rory McIlroy (32), Jon Rahm (26), Bernd Wiesberger (35) and the evergreen Lee Westwood who tops the age list at 48 years old. Like Lowry, Hovland and Wiesberger will be making their maiden appearances.
“Clearly we have a game plan, a pretty strong game plan, all the way through, well-prepared. But from being a vice captain, I know from these things – there’s unknowns, things change as you go on through the week,” said Harrington, who will have five vice-captains to assist him in Luke Donald, Robert Karlsson, Martin Kaymer, Graeme McDowell and Henrik Stenson.
“Even though we don’t know what’s going to happen, you still have an idea of, you know, X, Y or Z comes along, and, well, we can pivot this way. We have plenty of options and that’s the main thing.”
Europe have won nine of the last 12 matches, including the last one in France three years ago by a massive 17.5 to 10.5 margin.