Padraig Harrington has admitted that he was forced into a late change to two of his intended partnerships for the Ryder Cup over a ball issue – but played down how big a bearing that had on the outcome of the match.
On Saturday, The Telegraph reported that Harrington’s plan to put Lee Westwood out with Viktor Hovland and Paul Casey out with Matt Fitzpatrick had to be changed less than 48 hours before the first session at Whistling Straits after it was decided there were compatibility issues in the balls each pairing planned to use.
In the end, the European captain sent Westwood out with Fitzpatrick and Hovland with Casey in the opening morning’s foursomes, which Europe lost 3-1, setting the tone for a record-breaking 19-9 defeat.
Appearing on the latest episode of the No Laying Up podcast, Harrington confirmed The Telegraph’s story, but shot down any suggestion that it impacted his team.
“One of the issues was a player came In and said he was uncomfortable with one of the balls on the greens,” said the three-time major champ. “It was a bit ‘clicky’ for him. So we said, okay, are we going to force him into doing this?
“We had a look at it and we said, well, it’s incidental, we can change the partnerships up. We still had an experienced player with a rookie, which is what we wanted, so it was easy to switch up the partnerships.
“It was really incidental but somebody then wrote an article like we were in turmoil and I’m going, ‘Do you realise how many different golf balls these players play?’ I’d say there were eight or nine different golf balls in play between our 12 players. So everybody was playing with a different golf ball more or less.”
Harrington said that the new partnerships played foursomes with each other on the Thursday morning and insisted that they were “very comfortable with it”.
“The more I talk about it, the more it becomes a bigger story,” he added. “I was amazed that it came out as a ‘big deal’ story because, well, partnerships change.”
Reflecting on the week as a whole, Harrington maintained that he has “no regrets” despite what he called a “tough result”.
“I wouldn’t swap it, I wouldn’t change it, I wouldn’t give it up. We had an unbelievable week in the team room. I couldn’t have asked for more from the players, the caddies, the players’ wives, the players’ families – everybody in there was pulling in the right direction.
“We all believed going out there on Friday morning we could win it, which is where you want to be, and we even believed on Sunday that we could turn it over and win it still. So you can’t ask for more than that.”