Harrington sees bright future for Europe in Ryder Cup
Pádraig Harrington has no doubt Europe can look forward to a bright future in the Ryder Cup despite seeing his team go down to a record 19-9 defeat at Whistling Straits.
The visitors were facing an uphill battle in the Sunday singles, needing to do what no team had ever done before and overturn a six point deficit if they were to bring the trophy back across the Atlantic.
They had four players and three Vice Captains who had featured in the Miracle at Medinah nine years previously, when Europe came back from 10-6 down to win in Chicago, but Sunday proved a bridge too far for a team with vastly more Ryder Cup experience than their opponents.
Sergio Garcia entered the week with more Ryder Cup points than the entire American team combined and while the talismanic Spaniard added a further three, Harrington was left to reflect on his rising stars.
Captain Pádraig Harrington reflects on defeat.#TeamEurope #RyderCup pic.twitter.com/uWqQWBAy5f— Ryder Cup Europe (@RyderCupEurope) September 26, 2021
World Number One Jon Rahm, 26, won 3½ points as he played all five sessions in his second Ryder Cup, while debutant Viktor Hovland, 24, also played in every match and picked up two halves.
Matt Fitzpatrick and Tyrrell Hatton are both still in their 20s, while Rory McIlroy is a four time Major Champion at the age of just 32.
So while multiple Ryder Cup winners Garcia, Ian Poulter, Paul Casey and Lee Westwood may be getting towards the end of their days in the biennial spectacular, Harrington is certain many of his team are yet to reach their peak.
"There are young guys in this team that will be the heart of the team going forward," he said. "Jon Rahm, clearly; Viktor, these are young guys that will be there for a long time. But there's a good heart to the team.
"Everybody keeps going on about the experienced guys but there is a really solid heart on this team of players who are still coming into the peak of their careers.
The heart of this team will be here for a few more years for sure. They haven't got to their peaks yet, so we should see some strength going forward
"There is a lot of guys in the middle of their career now who should be moving on in their golf. They certainly haven't peaked yet.
"Europe, yes, we would look to young guys coming in over the future but the heart of this team will be here for a few more years for sure. They haven't got to their peaks yet, so we should see some strength going forward.
"We'll draw lessons from this week but most of these guys were winning in Paris, so there's still quite a winning mentality there going forward."
Harrington was quick to hail the victorious Americans, who were relentless in their quality from the first shot being hit on Friday, but he was also full of praise for the effort of his own troops in defeat.
"Everybody here gave 100 per cent and pulled together, everybody worked together this week," he said.
"Nobody didn't give their heart and soul to this team. We don't owe anybody anything in that sense. They all tried. They all put it in.
"That's all you can ask from the players: did they do their job? Yes they did.
"It didn't go right, but that happens in sport. If you want to have these glorious moments, you've got to put your head out there and sometimes it doesn't go right. You get your head knocked off. That's just the reality of sport.
"We were just beaten by a better team this week, a very strong US team that seemed to play right up to their ability. They had a bit of momentum, holed a few putts, had the crowd behind them. Just a lot of things really tough to overcome.
"I'm happy for Steve Stricker. You know, he's one of the good guys in golf. If you're going to get beat by a Captain, that's a good Captain for sure.
"He obviously got his plan right. Whatever their prep was, they did a good job, and they came out and started well and kept the momentum going. It was just a tough one to overcome.
"I believe that we did our job and it just wasn't our week."