Padraig Harrington has been in the post for little over a week but Lee Westwood has already reiterated his desire to succeed the Irishman as Europe’s Ryder Cup captain in time for the 2022 match.
Former world No.1 Westwood had originally been tipped to lead the side into the 2020 clash with the USA at Whistling Straits but withdrew himself from consideration in October, saying he’d “prefer to do it in Rome [in 2022] if possible”.
Ahead of this week’s Abu Dhabi HSBC Championship, the 45-year-old – who has played in the match ten times – doubled-down on that hope.
“I'd love to have it in Italy, I'll not lie to you,” said Westwood. “That would be ideal for me to be captain. I think this time around, I proved at the end of last year that I can still win tournaments and I feel like I can still qualify for a Ryder Cup team.
“So it would be daft to go to have gone for the next one because obviously I'd like to play in it. If I'm not there, then, I'd like to help out in some way and gain a bit more experience but, after that, Italy, I'll be 49, and that's the ideal time to be captain in my point of view. I'll still be playing out here. I'll still be in touch with the players.”
Westwood, who was part of Thomas Bjorn's backroom team in Paris last year, believes that being active on the main European Tour is a key to being a successful Ryder Cup skipper and illustrated his point using the example of then 65-year-old Tom Watson’s disastrous captaincy in 2014.
“He was just a bit too old and out of touch with the players that were on his team,” said the Englishman. “You've got to have that connection, but at the age of 49, you know, my career will obviously be slowing down a little bit.
“At 45, I don't play as much as I used to, so at 49 I can commit more time to it. I watched Thomas do it last year, and the year that your Ryder Cup captaincy is, you kind of resign yourself to not having as much time to practise and you're just not going to be as competitive. At that age, you can throw everything into it.”
He added: “The start of every year now, I walk up and down the range, and there will be some people that I have no idea who they are. It will almost be 50/50 who I know and who I don't. So you've got to be out here.”