Who is the real 2018 NASCAR Cup series title favourite?

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Ryder Cup EXCLUSIVE: Padraig Harrington confirms captain decision

Harrington confirmed he will be formally advising the European Tour of his intentions and speaking ahead of teeing-up today (Friday) on day two of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at the Carnoustie course in Scotland.

Harrington’s choice as replacement for the victorious Thomas Bjorn already has the backing of Rory McIlroy while fellow Versailles vice-captain, Luke Donald is also supporting Harrington for the 2020 Ryder Cup captaincy.

And while Harrington spoke last May of his desire to be a Ryder Cup captain sooner rather than wait for Adare Manor in 2026, the 47-year old is now ready to take the 2020 leading reins with outstretched arms.

“I honestly think it fits really well not only for me and for everybody that I seek the captaincy of the next European Ryder Cup team,” he confirmed.

“I know there is a committee who choose the next captain and they will go about the process of seeking nominees and then put those names to a vote but I do believe the European Team would like continuity that’s for sure and that is why I will benefit.

“I have been a vice-captain now for the past three Ryder Cup’s and given the success of this recent team, I am sure they would be very happy to know that either myself or one of the other Versailles vice-captains, and that’s if any of those other vice-captains wish the job, would present the best chance of maintaining that continuity.

“I know from being with the team last week they like the whole structure of the support they receive from the captain and the vice-captains.

“What is clearly happening now is that the vice-captains are be groomed to be future captains and not so much as it was years ago of the vice-captains being ex-captains.

“So, it’s now a matter of picking vice-captains who they will want for future captains.”

And as Donald rightfully pointed out, Harrington is also very popular in the U.S. and given also the 2020 Ryder Cup is being held on a Wisconsin course just a three-hour drive north of Chicago, and where there is a large Irish-based community.

“I would like to think I am popular in the States and that would also make me a good captaincy candidate because of the venue being not too far from Chicago where is a lot of Irish,” he said.

“So, yes I do have that aspect in my favour.”

The past double Dunhill Links winner ended the opening round of the 2018 Dunhill Links event tied with fellow Irishman Paul McGinley and three others and a shot behind the leading duo of England’s Matt Wallace and Aussie Marcus Fraser.

Harrington had been level par, thanks to two birdies and two bogeys after seven holes, before birdies 12th 15th and 16th holes.

“I’ve had 11 days not playing on a golf course and started hitting shots on Monday, so a couple of days hitting shots and my first round was on Wednesday, 11 days, and it’s completely different, hitting a golf shot, hitting one on the golf course,” he said.

“I thought I would never be ready for today but there you go, a little bit of focus, a little bit of, I suppose, being in competition, it sharpens you a little bit.

“I was really good mentally today, which I thought I was going to struggle, but yeah, happily surprised.”

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