Captain Padraig Harrington makes sure Team Europe knows it has ‘a place in history,’ assigns each player a commemorative number
SHEBOYGAN, Wis. — Team Europe captain Padraig Harrington wants to make sure his players “make it count” at this week’s Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits, and the Irishman has come up with a unique way to remind them of their rare achievement.
During a team meeting Monday night, Harrington showed his 12 players a video that noted that 570 players people have gone to space, 5,780 have reached the summit of Mount Everest, 445 men have won the World Cup, and 353 Europeans have won a gold medal in track and field at the Olympics.
Only 164 men have represented Europe in the Ryder Cup, and Harrington has assigned each of them a number — from No. 1, Aubrey Boomer, who played in the first two Ryder Cups, to No. 164, Austria’s Bernd Wiesberger, the last of three rookies this year. The numbers are stitched in players’ bags and club head covers.
“When you think 580 people have gone to space and 5,870 people have climbed Mount Everest, it’s incredible that there’s so few who have played in the Ryder Cup,” Harrington said. “It makes it very special for the players to know that they have a place in history that can never be taken away from them.
“They will always have a name on that wall.”
Harrington said the idea isn’t entirely new and has been used before, but it had an impact on his team.
“It was very powerful,” Spain’s Sergio Garcia said. “I didn’t know my number. I’ve always known that being a part of the Ryder Cup team is very difficult, but I didn’t know that only that little amount of players have made it. So that showed you how difficult it really is. That’s why we give it the respect that it deserves, because it’s so difficult to be a part of it. It’s an honor, and we treat it like that.”
The “Make It Count” motto is also featured in the European team rooms.
“It’s a small collection of people that have played for Europe in the Ryder Cup,” Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy said. “I think that’s what brings us very close together, and that’s been one of our sort of big focus points this week, is just being here is very special and being part of a European team. Very few people can call themselves a European Ryder Cup player.”
England’s Lee Westwood, 48, is making his 11th appearance at the Ryder Cup. He has the lowest number on the European team at No. 118.
“You have a far greater chance of going into space or climbing Mount Everest than you have representing Europe in the Ryder Cup,” Westwood said. “It’s something to be very proud of, being able to pull on the clothing with the European team crest on it.”