Who Got It Wrong: Harrington Or The Players?

Harrington Or The Players?
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The Ryder Cup post mortem has begun, who is to blame? Or should we just doth our cap to the Americans?

Who Got It Wrong: Harrington Or The Players?

It was a humbling week for Team Europe who crashed to a resounding loss at the 2020 Ryder Cup.

The court of public opinion is already in session and fans are asking just where it went wrong for Team Europe, was it Harrington or was it his players?

Before we get into this, we have to acknowledge that the Americans played some stunning golf.

As European fans, we've got to remember we're allowed to be beaten. Teams are allowed to play well. Players are allowed to play well. Losing to this team is no embarrassment.

The average world ranking of the American team coming in to Whistling Straits ninth.

With six rookies, there was no scar tissue from Paris or from Medinah and the partisan crowd pushed their players over the line all week.

Quite simply, they were good.

Related: McIlroy Breaks Down In Tears – “I Should Have Done More

All this to one side, we've got to ask who got it wrong this week.

Starting with captain Harrington, are there some key decisions he got wrong?

To be fair to him, it's hard to think of any pairing - or any golfers on the entire European continent - that could've taken down the pairings of Johnson and Morikawa and DeChambeau and Scheffler the way they were playing.

However, there have to be some questions about the McIlroy and Poulter partnership that played twice this week.

Last time these two played together, they got swept aside 4&3 by Thomas and Spieth in Paris.

Three years since that match, putting together McIlroy - who is midway through some serious swing changes - and Poulter - who hasn't shown any form in 2021 - was perhaps Harrington's biggest blunder.

Related: Does Europe Need A Task Force To Avoid Defeat In 2023?

As for the players, you could argue half of this team were coming into the event with no real form to speak of.

Westwood, Fitzpatrick, Hatton, McIlroy, and Fleetwood all qualified automatically thanks some to some excellent results at start of the qualification period.

However, after securing their place automatically, this form of these players tailed off dramatically leading up to September 2021.

Having a group of out of form players certainly isn't theirs or Harrington's fault and the heat of battle is no place to suddenly find your game.

But Harrington could've made life easier for himself if he'd followed Steve Stricker's selection policy.

With Covid delaying the start of the tournament, Stricker and Team USA decided to only have six automatic qualifiers and utilise six captain's picks.

This allowed him to pick on form, rather than two years worth of qualification points.

As it turned out, Stricker basically picked the next six in the qualification list, such was the form of the top 12 Americans.

But let's imagine Harrington gave himself this option, rather than allowing nine players to automatically qualify.

This would've allowed him to freely pick the likes of Justin Rose, Bob McIntyre or even one of the Hojgaard brothers who were in some good form.

However, nothing gets past the fact that Europe doesn't have the wealth of options America has, and 2020 proved to be a transitional period for the team.

It's a case of wrong time, wrong place for Harrington who no doubt would've made a great captain with some slightly stronger ammo.

As the inquest begins, America's quality has to be the main headline coming out of the 2020 Ryder Cup.

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 buyer's guides, specializing in golf shoe, golf bag and golf cart 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 is currently playing: 

Driver: TaylorMade Stealth 2 

Fairway: TaylorMade Stealth 2 15°, Ping G425 Max 21°

Hybrid: Ping G425 

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

Wedges: Ping Glide Forged Pro

Putter: TaylorMade Spider Tour X

Ball: TaylorMade TP5x