Padraig Harrington says there is “no doubt” Rory McIlroy will be included in Europe’s 2020 Ryder Cup team as he dismissed doubts about the Northern Irishman’s commitment.
McIlroy has controversially revealed he may not fulfil the requirements for European Tour membership next season, which could leave him ineligible for the biennial competition against the United States.
The 29-year-old, who lives in America, last week described the European Tour as “a stepping stone” and reiterated his intention to concentrate on the PGA Tour in 2019.
But Harrington, who was named European captain yesterday, is confident McIlroy will be available for selection in Whistling Straights next year as his team attempt to defend the trophy won in Paris in September.
“I can only look at his actions. That man loves the Ryder Cup. He’s become a leader in the team room,” said Harrington. “He gives so much to the Ryder Cup; the Ryder Cup gives so much back to Rory that he can’t get anywhere else.
“He gets the glory, the opportunity to be loved on the golf course. He gets the exuberance, the crowd.
“You don’t get that day in, day out. You don’t get that regularly. His actions are all about the Ryder Cup.
“He will be 100 per cent behind and in that Ryder Cup team, there’s no doubt about it. You just have to know the man behind the scenes.”
McIlroy has competed in the last five Ryder Cups, winning in 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2018.
Players must be a member of the European Tour to take part in the competition and, under regulations introduced in January 2017, “cannot be a European Ryder Cup captain or a vice-captain if they decline membership of the European Tour or fail to fulfil their minimum event obligation in any season, from 2018 onwards.”
McIlroy needs to play four European Tour tournaments outside the majors and World Golf Championship events in order to retain membership, but currently only has two on his schedule.
Irishman Harrington added: “I know there’s words there, but the actions nowhere near match up.
“He is as European as they come. Yes, he’s moved to the States. His family’s there.
“He wants to win the Masters and those words are coming out but his actions are not that way at all. His actions are so European.”