Golf Ball Issues Forced Harrington Into Last Minute Ryder Cup Changes

The change in pairings came as late as two days before the start of the Ryder Cup

Harrington Ryder Cup
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Reports from The Telegraph suggest Harrington had to make last minute changes to his pairings after discovering his players used different Titleist golf balls.

Golf Ball Issues Forced Harrington Into Last Minute Ryder Cup Changes

Padraig Harrington, Europe's captain at last month's Ryder Cup, was forced into two last minute changes to his pairings after discovering his pairings used different golf balls than he initially thought.

According to a report in the Telegraph, Harrington's plans - which were reportedly set in stone days before the Ryder Cup began - where thrown in the air after he discovered some of his players used different types of Titleist golf balls.

Harrington discovered on the Wednesday before the event began that Lee Westwood and Paul Casey played different golf balls, as did Viktor Hovland and Matt Fitzpatrick.

While Fitzpatrick uses the Titlesist Pro V1x issued in 2019, Hovland uses the Pro V1 launched in 2021.

Harrington also discovered that Casey and Westwood use different variants of the Titleist golf ball range.

In the end, Harrington paired Casey with Hovland and Westwood with Fitzpatrick in the first session.

Related: Padraig Harrington – “The Ryder Cup Impacts My Legacy"

Both pairs lost, and Casey and Hovland weren't paired again throughout the week.

Westwood and Fitzpatrick went out again on Saturday, suffering their second defeat as a pair.

Telegraph Sport reported that Harrington made the changes just two days before the first foursomes session after having his pairings pretty much cemented before he came into the week.

Europe would go on to lose the first session 3-1 and lose the Ryder Cup by a record 19-9 margin.

A new rule introduced in 2006 made golf ball choice more flexible in the Ryder Cup pairs matches.

Previously, a pair would have to play with the same make and model of golf ball throughout the match, but the 2006 rule change allowed players to switch the ball on the tee box.

The rule of thumb is that the player driving the ball would use the ball of preference of their foresomes partner, in order for the approach shot to be used with ball of familiarity.

Other foresomes pairings in the European team that used different golf balls include Rory McIlroy and Ian Poulter, as well as Sergio Garcia and Jon Rahm.

Both of these pairs likely switched balls on the tee to aid the player hitting the approach shot to the green.

Dan Parker
Staff Writer

Dan has been with Golf Monthly team since 2021. He graduated with a Masters degree in International Journalism from the University of Sussex and looks after equipment reviews and buying guides, specializing in golf shoe, golf bag, golf cart and apparel reviews. Dan has now tested and reviewed over 30 pairs of golf shoes and is an expert in the field. A left-handed golfer, his handicap index is currently 6.5 and he plays at Fulford Heath Golf Club in the West Midlands. 

Dan's current clubs: 

Driver: TaylorMade Stealth 2 

Fairway: TaylorMade Stealth 2 15°

Hybrid: Ping G425 

Irons: Cobra King Tec Utility, Ping i230 (5-PW) 

Wedges: Ping Glide Forged Pro

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour X

Ball: Titleist AVX