Padraig Harrington makes bold prediction about Viktor Hovland’s Ryder Cup future

June 21, 2019

Golf fans everywhere are all aboard the hype train of reigning U.S. Amateur Champion, Masters and U.S. Open Low Am, Viktor Hovland.

Not that any of that hype isn’t very well deserved, of course, as his one-line resume above suggests. But now that hype train is headed to loftier heights.

The Oklahoma State standout hasn’t looked out of place on the PGA Tour, even before he turned professional this week. He led the field in SG: Driving during his T-11 finish at the U.S. Open, and on Thursday fired a solid three-under 67 in his first round as a pro at the Travelers Championship.

His performance has endeared him to golf fans everywhere, including one who may hold the immediate keys to Hovland’s Ryder cup future: European captain Padraig Harrington, who said that at this rate, Hovland will “probably be in [the European Ryder Cup] team.”

Speaking to Sirius XM PGA Tour Radio on Friday:

“The most interesting thing that came out of last week is Viktor Hovland. At the end of the day, I want to ask myself, ‘Is he possibly going to be in my team next year?’ Every Ryder Cup throws up two or three rookies, there’s no way for me to predict all the names that would be in there, but certainly Viktor Hovland showed his colors last week. I would hope that he would take European membership and make an effort to make the team because if he’s as good as he looks, he’ll probably be in that team.”

It’s a bold, somewhat surprising prediction from Paddy, but not a wholly unforeseeable one. The traditional backbone of the European Ryder Cup team is an aging one, and it’s in need of transition.

The Ryder Cup playing careers of the traditional European stalwarts — the likes of Westwood, McDowell, Bjorn, Harrington, Poulter and Stenson— are either over or in their twilight. That’s not an insult, simply an inevitable part of sports. The latter names may have a handful more in them, but they’re not going to be the core of this team for the next, say, 10 years.

The six rookies that made the 2016 Ryder Cup speaks to this ongoing transition within the European ranks, so it makes sense that Paddy would be looking towards the likes of the Norwegian Viktor Hovland. Is making the team next year, just a year after turning professional and with no current status to his name, a stretch? Perhaps. But Paddy’s right: From what he’s shown us so far, he looks like a big part of the next European Ryder Cup team, and the ones to come.

Listen to the full clip below.