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Ryder Cup 2021: European team atmosphere ‘right where you’d want it’ says Padraig Harrington

The European team at their photocall at Whistling Straits.
The European team at their photocall at Whistling Straits.

Padraig Harrington says the atmosphere in the European team room is “exactly where I would want it” with two more days to go before the 43rd Ryder Cup.

Buoyed by a video showing the uniqueness of being a European Ryder Cup player – just 164 have that honour – the team’s photocall also provoked much hilarity at Whistling Straits yesterday, suggesting a team that is loose and confident.

The team all got their own “numbers” yesterday – Harrington himself is 131 – and the three rookies in the team got their acclaim at the team meeting.

‘164 is a startlingly small amount of players’

“It was an idea the European Tour came up with, and I was very comfortable and happy to buy into it and believe in it,” said Harrington. “It’s really worked out very nicely.

“We have a wall with the honour roll of who have played, and being able to look at those names and go through it, 164 is just startlingly small amount of players. You can blame Lee Westwood for that for playing 11 times, and Sergio, as well!

“When you think 580 people have gone to space and 5,870 people have climbed Mount Everest. It’s incredible that there’s so few who have played in the Ryder Cup.

“It makes it very special for the players to know that they have a place in history that can never be taken away from them. They will always have a name on that wall.”

Rookies Shane Lowry, Bernd Wiesberger and Viktor Hovland all “had their moment” during the evening, he said, and the team’s attitude had been exceptional.

‘I’m trying not to mess it up from here’

“It was a lovely way to start the week and we have more to come,” he said. “The atmosphere is exactly where you would want it at this point. Literally I’m trying not to mess it up from here.”

There is one new aspect to this year in the “Covid” envelope. Traditionally captains have had an injury envelope for the singles draw. Each side’s captain picks a player who will be stood down if someone on the other side cannot play.

That survives in 2021, but there’s now a Covid envelope as well.

“It’s the exact same,” said Harrington. “The person that goes in the envelope, the captain decides, and nobody ever knows if it’s never opened. We hope that stays that way.

‘It’s above the pay grade of the captains’

“But we’ve had a few injury pull-outs over the year, so it would be just very similar to that. No real difference in how it works.

“It’s something that’s decided above the pay grade of the captains. But it’s still not completely clear what happens if we had a Covid outbreak of a number of players.

“For one player it’s pretty straightforward. Obviously the first two days four players sit out (every session). Obviously on Sunday you start losing a few players to Covid, it does affect the match in some way.”

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