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 is a Staff Writer and has been with the Golf Monthly team since 2021. Dan graduated with a Masters in International Journalism from the University of Sussex and primarily looks after equipment reviews and buyer's guides, specializing in golf shoe and golf cart reviews. Dan has now tested and reviewed over 30 pairs of golf shoes for the website and magazine with his current favorite pair being the Ecco Biom C4. A left-handed golfer, his handicap index is currently 8.5 and he plays at Fulford Heath Golf Club in the West Midlands. His best day in golf so far was shooting 76 at Essendon Golf Club on his first-ever round with his Golf Monthly colleagues. Dan also runs his own cricket podcast and website in his spare time. 

Dan is currently playing: 

Driver: Ping G425 Max 

Fairway: Ping G425 Max 

Hybrid: Ping G425 

Irons: Ping i59 (4-PW) 

Wedges: Ping Glide Forged Pro

Putter: Wilson Staff Infinite Buckingham 

Ball: TaylorMade TP5 Pix