Golfing legends and popular pairing Lee Westwood and Padraig Harrington are red-hot favourites to become the new Ryder Cup captains for Team Europe for the 2020 and 2022 Ryder Cup tournaments against the USA.
Reports from the Daily Mail suggest that consideration is being given to both candidates and that they could be confirmed in a joint announcement in the new year.
The dynamic pair will be playing alongside outgoing victorious Ryder Cup captain Thomas Bjorn in the Sky Sports British Masters at Walton Heath on Thursday, and Bjorn has given his blessing to both men to eventually captain team Europe.
The 47-year-old Dane selected both Westwood and Harrington as his vice-captains in this year's Ryder Cup in Paris, of which Europe emerged victorious for the fourth time in five tournaments against the USA.
Bjorn is one of five people charged with making the decision on the next European captain, and he has given his public backing for an unprecedented double announcement of Harrington and Westwood in the new year.
“When you think that Padraig is a three-time major champion and all that Lee has done in the Ryder Cup, I think we can all agree they should both do the job at some time,” explained the Dane.
Partnering Bjorn in choosing his successor are Darren Clarke, Paul McGinley, European Tour Chief Executive Keith Pelley and a yet unnamed representative of the players' committee.
“What’s important is they both want to do the job. I can see why a double appointment would work if that was considered the best way to proceed,” explained Bjorn.
Lee Westwood publicly ruled himself out of the running for the role of captain at the 2020 Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits only a few days ago, having previously expressed an interest in the job. The 45-year-old Brit has described Harrington as the ‘better candidate’ to lead the team in Wisconsin, USA.
It is now understood that Westwood would prefer to wait until Rome 2022 to take up any leadership opportunities that may lay in wait. This has left the door wide open for 47-year-old Irishman Harrington to take the reigns in two year's time.
However, there are still a few reasons why a double announcement might not be the best way forward. Paul McGinley will no longer be part of the selection committee after the 2020 Ryder Cup, his position being filled by the captain of the 2020 team, and also the identity of the players representative could change.
McGinley being replaced by Harrington, should he be declared the 2020 coach wouldn’t change the decision process around Westwood’s potential captaincy in 2022, however, and given Westwood’s distinction and achievements in the tournament in the past, it is hard to see anyone opposing the popular Nottinghamshire-born player’s captaincy.
Harrington’s inauguration into the Ryder Cup captaincy should happen in January or February of 2019 but Bjorn insists there is no need to rush to announce the new captain of the team, so shortly after winning the tournament in Paris.
“As much as when we lose, we try and calm ourselves down, I think we also need to calm ourselves down when we win,” Bjorn said.
“We’ve got to let these 12 players enjoy this Ryder Cup and what was 2018 in Paris before we start looking forward to Whistling Straits."