Ryder Cup notes: A (very) short, strange story about Padraig Harrington’s attention to detail

Earlier this month — Saturday, Sept. 11, to be exact — two old friends from Ireland met with their wives for dinner in England. The men had a lot in common: they had grown up just a few years apart in the same area of Dublin, they went to the same Catholic school, Coláiste Éanna, and they ended up in the same business, even working together successfully at times.

They were also both Ryder Cup captains.

Paul McGinley, Europe’s winning captain in 2014, met the current captain Padraig Harrington on that night two weeks ago at Queenwood Golf Club west of London. They had an early dinner then returned to McGinley’s home at Sunningdale to watch the women’s singles final at the U.S. Open tennis championship, which pitted England’s Emma Raducanu against Canada’s Leylah Fernandez.

The two couples were on the couch drinking tea and watching when Raducanu netted a first serve. As the ball rolled back toward her, Raducanu scooped it up and used it for her second serve.

“That’s interesting,” Harrington said, eyes glued to the screen. “She’s not OCD.”

The McGinleys — Paul and his wife, Ali — and Caroline Harrington looked at him quizzically. Padraig pointed to how Raducanu used the same ball for both serves and suggested an OCD player would have gone to a fresh ball. Caroline Harrington decided to play devil’s advocate.

“Perhaps she is OCD and that’s why she used the same ball,” she said.

“No,” her husband replied. “That’s the third time she’s hit a first serve into the net but the two previous times she then used a different ball for the second serve.”

McGinley recounted the story Wednesday at Whistling Straits during a conversation about his old pal’s famous tendency to obsessively scrutinize the most minor details. Two weeks on, he was still laughing and shaking his head at the moment.

“That’s what he’s like,” McGinley said. “That’s Padraig.”

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