Two-time British Open champion Padraig Harrington has become the first "Working for Golf" ambassador for the sport's ruling Royal and Ancient Club.
The 39-year-old Dubliner, who at Birkdale three years ago became the first European golfer to make a successful defense of the Claret Jug since James Braid in 1906, will be promoting the work of the St. Andrews-based governing body on his travels. He also won the 2008 PGA Championship at Oakland Hills.
"Padraig is a role model in the game and when he offered his time to support our golf development and rules education activities, we recognized the potential to reach the widest possible audience,” said R&A Chief Executive Peter Dawson. "His active involvement in golf's bid to rejoin the Olympic Games was an important factor in our success in what is a key development for the future growth of the game."
Harrington, along with Matteo Manassero, Michelle Wie and Suzann Pettersen, spoke at the bid presentation to the International Olympic Committee two years ago, and golf will return to the Games in Brazil in 2016 after an absence of more than a century.
In his new role, he will coach young people in R&A-funded golf development programs, appear in Rules of Golf multi-media productions, promote the etiquette of the game, take part in biomechanical equipment testing sessions and support the work of the R&A Foundation.
"The R&A has been a constant feature of my development in the game, from playing in boys and amateur events through to winning the Open Championship," Harrington said. "I appreciate all the guidance and opportunities they provided along the way. I am delighted to have this opportunity to give something positive back to the game, particularly in those countries around the world where golf is still in its infancy, introducing boys and girls to golf so they can benefit from the values that the game teaches you.
"I am constantly amazed at how much the R&A do for the game worldwide from development to the rules, etiquette and other areas,” he added. "The more I learnt the more I wanted to get involved in their work and, given that I play a global schedule, I am well-placed to assist on various projects around the world."
In his first act as an ambassador, Harrington announced the R&A's continued support for grassroots development programs in Ireland, worth about $300,000 over the next three years.