Padraig Harrington interview: Team Europe braced for 'formidable' Ryder Cup challenge

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Padraig Harrington has told GiveMeSport that Team Europe is ready for battle against Team USA as the opening tee shot of this year’s Ryder Cup draws ever closer.

The three-time Major winner is working under Paul McGinley as one of five vice-captains at Gleneagles, with Sam Torrance, Des Smyth, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Jose Maria Olazabal also involved from Friday to Sunday.

It’s the first time Harrington has been been handed one of the senior positions for the continent, having participated in the Ryder Cup six times as a player, and it’s a role the Irishman is sure to relish over the coming days.

Never say die attitude

His work in Scotland ramped up a notch yesterday (Tuesday) as the players took part in their first practice round ahead of the event, and much of the pre-Friday focus has centred around the Miracle in Medinah two years ago. Whilst Team Europe staged a memorable fightback on that occasion, it’s an initial position that Harrington is hoping his side can avoid.

"The way that Europe played on the final day was unbelievable. It showed everyone that you’re never out of it,” he told GiveMeSport in an exclusive interview.

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"I’m sure we won’t want to be in that situation again, so Europe has to be focused on their performance at Gleneagles and be under no illusions about how formidable a test the United States team will provide.

"I think the fact that a few of the team and vice captains experienced a similar heartache in Brookline in 1999 will help keep our feet grounded.”

Favourites tag

Team Europe will start the 40th edition of the competition as favourites - a relatively rare position but one that’s earned with the likes of Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose all occupying positions in the world’s top ten.

The aforementioned four all took part in the much-anticipated Tour Championship event earlier this month, but their performances in America are unlikely to have had any baring on pairings going into the opening fourballs and foursomes.

"It was great to have four players in that event because it means that our team is playing well, but I don’t think it would change the pairings too much because they are all experienced Ryder Cup players,” Harrington added.

Extensive research

"If Rory or Justin had gone on to win the FedEx Cup it would have been great for the team in terms of showing form heading into the event, but it probably wouldn’t have affected who they were paired with.

"Nobody has put more effort in than Paul (McGinley) since he was named captain. He really has left no stone unturned and I am sure will have been thinking of possible pairings all year.”

Harrington was speaking exclusively to GiveMeSport ahead of this year’s Ryder Cup. You can follow him on Facebook HERE

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