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Ryder Cup Captains: Does a great player make a captain?

Ryder Cup

The Ryder Cup is littered with success stories for some of the biggest name players to have graced the game of golf. But how do they fare when becoming one of the Ryder Cup captains?

It will be Steve Stricker and Padraig Harrington leading the United States and Europe into battle at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin this year, both having starred for their teams previously as Ryder Cup players.

Betway have taken a look at the records of leading points scorers as players and just how they did when in charge of the US or European teams.

United States Ryder Cup Captains Records

The United States best performers with the clubs in hand in the Ryder Cup have not, on the whole, made the best captains.

In terms of points earned as a player, Tom Kite, Jack Nicklaus, Lee Trevino, Lanny Wadkins and Billy Casper are the five most successful to have then become captains.

Ryder Cup Captains USA

The quintet all gained at least 17 points at over 60 per cent record, but only two managed to become a winning captain. Casper did it in 1979 and Nicklaus in 1983 before losing in 1987.

More recent winning captains have not fared well as players, including Davis Love III (11.5 points from 26 matches), Paul Azinger (6.5 points from 16 matches) and Ben Crenshaw (3.5 points from 12 matches).

Team Europe Ryder Cup Captains Records

Europe have followed a familiar pattern in recent years by naming previously successful players as captains. It has paid dividends with Europe winning seven of the last nine Ryder Cups.

Of those who have captained the team, five had scored 20 or more points as a player. Seve Ballesteros, Bernhard Langer, Nick Faldo, Colin Montgomerie and Jose Maria Olazabal all achieved that.

Just one of them – Faldo – failed to lift the cup as a captain after his side suffered defeat in 2008 in the United States.

Ryder Cup Captains Europe

Langar and Olazabal had both managed to lead Europe to victory in the US at Oakland Hills in 2004 and in the Miracle at Medinah in 2012 respectively.

The records show that seven of Europe’s Ryder Cup winning captains achieved a points percentage of 50 per cent or higher in their playing days.

The 2018 captain Thomas Bjorn was one of the exceptions with the Dane holding a record of 44.4 according to Betway’s research.

Steve Stricker vs Padraig Harrington

Neither of the 2021 Ryder Cup captains had a strong record as a player.

Stricker appeared in three cups, winning in 2008 before losing in 2010 and 2012. He picked up just 3.5 points from 11 matches.

Harrington played in six Ryder Cups and lifted it on four occasions between 1999 and 2010. In total, he earned 10.5 points for his team from 25 matches.