Harrington Talks Up Europe's Chances In Rome

Two years ago things looked very dark from a European perspective after being thumped 19-9 at Whistling Straits. Europe's captain in 2021 was Padraig Harrington but he is now confident that Europe, who haven't lost at home since 1993, are back with a strong chance of keeping that run going.

Europe now have three of the world's top four players in Jon Rahm, Rory McIlroy and the very in-form Viktor Hovland as well as the likes of English trio Matt Fitzpatrick, Tommy Fleetwood and Tyrrell Hatton in the top 15.

"Europe is very strong this year. I think we're back, I believe we're back to the 80s, the 70s where our top players are actually the best players in the world. So I think the team is very strong. I think they're very much in form.

"I think we just caught 2021 on our turndown, their upturn. That one extra year of Covid, our team went from peaking to slightly off and never could come back, and I said at the end of that Ryder Cup, I said in numerous interviews, many of these players are going to go on to play their best golf going forward, and they have. You look at Tommy Fleetwood's playing, you look at Matt Fitz won a Major, you look at Tyrrell Hatton playing great, Viktor Hovland.

"The US Team were peaking. That extra year got them into a great place. If you start looking at the names now with two years of hindsight, they were at the top of their game and the Europeans are only coming into that now. Europe has gotten a lot stronger in those two years, and the US, I don't want to say that they're weakening in any shape or form, but certainly there's a number of players that were at their peak at that moment. It's just ebbs and flows in the game of golf. I think the flow was with Europe then."

Harrington, at 52, revealed that he actually received a phone call from Luke Donald to say that he hadn't made the team and he was sympathetic towards Adrian Meronk who narrowly missed out this time around.

"I feel for Adrian Meronk. I think he's a class player and is going to be a great player for the future, but unfortunately a lot of times at the Ryder Cup, when you're sitting in the hot seat the last month or two, it's like being a leader on the leaderboard; the guys coming behind free up a little bit, and Nicolai (Hojgaard) obviously did great over the last couple of tournaments in order to steal the limelight.

"It's tough for Adrian. Lovely player, lovely kid, and he will play Ryder Cups in the future and do well anyway. But it's tough when you miss out."

The Dubliner missed out himself in 1997 by around €13k and he was then overlooked by Seve Ballesteros, the captain at Valderrama.

"I played with Seve all that summer. I remember playing with him here and all the time, and I seemed to be drawing him, and at the end of it, he didn't really want me on his team, but at the end of it he was very nice and said, you know what, you will have your time. I think Adrian will have his time, as well."