European Ryder Cup captains have a tradition, and it will leave a mark

Padraig Harrington

Padraig Harrington will get a tattoo — like his European Ryder Cup captain predecessor, Thomas Bjorn, did — should his team win.

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Ian Poulter, after his European team’s victory in the 2018 Ryder Cup, was asked what his captain, Thomas Bjorn, “did perhaps better than anything else.” The methods, while good, were also not out of the ordinary. “He’s allowed us to be very relaxed and chilled in the team room.” And: “He understands every player on a personal level and professionally.” And: “So to be able to have that level of calmness in the team room I think this week showed through.” 

But Poulter was saving the best of the better for last. 

“And we had an extra bit of motivation this week, as well, which … ”

“Yes, bring it,” Sergio Garcia said. 

“You might all see — I don’t know when it’s going to get done,” Poulter continued, “but we had some extra motivation this week to make sure we put our hands back on that trophy. As little or big as that number is going to be, it will be a very interesting number to see.”

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And a dozen weeks later, and filmed by the European Tour social media team, Bjorn walked down the steps of the Frith Street Tattoo parlor in London, slightly lowered his pants and had the winning score — 17.5-10.5 — inked on his backside. 

“The worst decision I made all week,” Bjorn said after the victory. 

“No, it was the best,” Garcia said. 

“It was clearly the best,” Poulter said. 

Clearly. What worked for one European Ryder Cup captain will now work for all European Ryder Cup captains. On Wednesday, this year’s skipper, Padraig Harrington, said the ploy’s in play this week at Whistling Straits in Wisconsin, too.   

“I think it’s an unwritten rule, so it has come up, yes, in conversation,” said Harrington, who added he would have “given up a lot more.” “Maybe they didn’t ask. Maybe I offered, and they felt that was enough. But definitely, yeah, it’s a given now in Europe. Captain has to get a tattoo.

“And I don’t have any other tattoos at this stage, so it would be a new experience for me. Where on the body? I don’t know. It depends — no, I can’t go that route. Depends how long it is.”

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And what of his U.S. counterpart? Would Steve Stricker get a tat?

“We’ve discussed tattoos in our room,” he said. “The problem is my girls — my wife and kids — have always asked me to get a tattoo, and I’m like, I’m not putting any decals on my body kind of thing. So yeah, I’d have to check with them first, I think, to see if I could actually get a tattoo from the Ryder Cup.

“I had an idea. The players gave me an idea what I could put on there. I told them where I was going to put it; it was going to go right on my cheek.

“We’ll see what brings about that, but we may have a tattoo artist guy come in on Sunday night. One way or another, it may happen.”

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Nick Piastowski

Golf.com Editor