Padraig Harrington: “Intuition matters, otherwise we’d have Artificial Intelligence pick the team.”

Before announcing his three wildcard picks at the weekend, Europe’s Ryder Cup captain talked with PlanetSport about the nature of Ryder Cup leadership.

It turns out that one member of Europe's team was a little reticent about accepting the captain's invitation to the delayed match at Whistling Straits later this month.

Speaking to Planet Sport ahead of last week's BMW PGA Championship Padraig Harrington pointed to his fellow interviewee Martin Kaymer and said: "When I first brought Martin on-board as a vice-captain he was quite concerned. He thought the modern way is all about data.

"I said, 'No, I need balance, I want feels, I want intuition and, crucially, I want someone who trusts his intuition.'

"I said, 'That's why I want you, Martin. Data gives us confidence, but our intuition matters, otherwise we'd have Artificial Intelligence pick the team."

Those qualities informed the captaincy's team's decision to pick Shane LowryIan Poulter and Sergio Garcia as the wildcards ahead of Justin Rose.

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The choices have been hotly discussed on social media, but it's possible to argue that none of the four did Harrington many favours. Intuition was demanded because the data could pretty much argue one way or the other.

Three years ago, when announcing his own wildcards, Thomas Bjorn said: "Padraig explains it best: It's not about picking the best players, it's about picking the best team."

It's a notion he has kept in mind since taking over the reins from the Dane.

"Absolutely, but that doesn't mean everyone picked for the wildcard has to accomplish that role of team man or team leader.

"And there are different kinds of leaders. You can have leaders in the team room and also leaders out on the course. Not everyone can, or wants to, stand up and speak passionately and beat his chest."

Harrington paused for a little chuckle before adding: "And you have to time a chest-thumping. Not much point doing it on Monday. So maybe you've got those emotional guys who you need to hold back.

"With the three picks you're saying, 'What do I have and what do I need?'

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"Take Monty, for example. He was great. He'd strut around on the golf course and win you points, but he wasn't one for speaking up in the team room or taking a guy aside.

"So you need folk like that. You also need a player who will ensure that the mood you want is being created. Honestly, if you picked 10, 11 and 12 purely on merit you'd just go to the rankings, but you need a complete picture."

A similar strategy will be employed when Harrington pairs his players at the start of the week.

"There's no doubt that the business of creating partnerships has changed," he said. "You know, 20 years ago you would throw two guys together just because they were friends or came from the same country.

"I'll give you an example. In 2008 I played with Graeme McDowell and to be honest we didn't know each other. I was quite a bit older than him and he was a little bit intimidated by me. The fact we were both Irish really didn't mean we'd be a good team.

"So, yeah, now we look at personality, how the two games fit, what ball they play, whatever. We're much more detailed. You break it all down.

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"And the players get a say, too. We ask 'Are you happy with this player?' and it's interesting. Some players want a bold, noisy partner. Others want a low key pairing with no drama. You tend to think, 'Oh, everyone thinks like me.' Well, they don't. Different people want different things.

"Some players want a lot of information and assurance. Others ask for a role, then go off and do it. I just have to make them comfortable.

"I'm not asking them to do anything but play their golf because they're that good."

Harrington, like Kaymer, is a long-term testimonee of Rolex who this year become an Official Partner of the Ryder Cup having been the Official Timekeeper for the last 25 years.

Kaymer celebrates victory in 2012.
Kaymer celebrates victory in 2012.

Kaymer has a changing role himself this year, of course, and he's noted that amid the drama of golf's most hectic three days, simplicity is key.

"I've played in four, and been involved in five, Ryder Cups," he said. "I really learned from Paul McGinley and Colin Montgomerie. They gave us belief and they let us know that we didn't need to do anything special.

"Because when you see the highlights and packages about the Ryder Cup, you think, 'Oh wow, I need to produce something so special this week.' But you actually don't. Bad shots still happen in-between the good ones.

"And also, there is a reason you are on the team. It's because you're really good at golf. You need luck, but luck never got you on this team. Play your game. Play the game that got you here.

"I also really believe that whoever stands opposite you, it doesn't matter. I have a strong belief that anyone on our team can beat any player on the US team."

In one sense this is part two of golf's continental clash, given that the European Solheim Cup team has already travelled to America and defied a lack of supporters to win the trophy.

Harrington was taking notes during the 15-13 triumph of Catriona Matthew's team.

"Absolutely, I watched really close," he said. "There was lots to learn from, from the speeches to dealing with the crowds to setting up the team.

"And look, selfishly, we're taking inspiration from the win. I will be using that as motivation, no doubt.

"There was no luck involved. They took a lead and they held on to it, even responding to the fightback. It was a perfect display. They've got a winning habit and we relate to that. The style was impressive. Don't underestimate how well they played.

"I would hope I'm on along similar lines to Catriona in style. She did everything she could and then let them go, let them play.

"It's our job to set the team up, get good partnerships and then let them go. Let them know they have our trust.

"I truly believe this is our most balanced team ever. We're not hiding anyone. We have some lovely formations."

Rolex has been committed to the game of golf for over 50 years and has a relationship with the European Tour that began in 1997, and another with the PGA Tour that started in 2007.

READ MORE: Ryder Cup: Which players have performed strongly at Whistling Straits before?

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