McGinley ready to be ruthless as Ryder Cup captain
Dubliner admits his affable nature will not stand in the way of tough calls
Paul McGinley with the Ryder Cup ahead of the first counting event at the Wales Open at Celtic Manor. Photograph: Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley insists he is ready to be ruthless when required as he looks to lead Europe to an eighth victory in the last 10 contests at Gleneagles next year.
McGinley was a popular choice as captain when the decision was made in January, with Rory McIlroy in particular leading a Twitter campaign to ensure the Dubliner got the job.
But McGinley insists his affable nature does not mean he will be afraid to take the tough decisions which undoubtedly lie ahead.
“I understand that along the journey that all captains take, some tough decisions have to be made,” McGinley said. “Some have been made already and some will be made going forward. I’m prepared for that and I’m prepared for the fact that not everybody is going to agree with my decisions.
“I’ve been very fortunate, I’ve been involved in five of the last six Ryder Cups, and we won all five that I was involved in (three as a player, two as vice-captain). I’ve seen the template, I’ve seen what works and I just want to make that template better and roll it out again.
“I’ll meet any challenges I have head on and I understand that not everybody is going to be in agreement with the decisions that I make.”
McGinley himself will hit the very first shot in the race to qualify for Gleneagles and insists he is unconcerned only one member of last year’s victorious side is competing at the Wales Open.
Of the 12 players responsible for the ‘Miracle at Medinah’, only Italy’s Francesco Molinari is at Celtic Manor for the beginning of the year-long qualifying process.
However, McGinley can understand why the likes of McIlroy, Lee Westwood, Luke Donald and Ian Poulter are chasing the $10 million bonus on offer via the FedEx Cup play-offs and knows that the lucrative ‘Final Series’ on the European Tour later this year will offer those players the chance to earn plenty of points.
“I think it’s always a disappointment when there’s not more of the top players playing, but there’s very legitimate and understandable reasons with most of the players in the middle of the FedEx series,” said McGinley, who tees off at 7.20am alongside Challenge Tour winner John Parry and tour school winner Espen Kofstad.
“Having said that, as we saw from that week, it won’t make any difference to scoring and the standard of play. The quality of golf on The European Tour now is phenomenal and there’s a lot of young players who are ready to step up to Ryder Cup standard.
“I’m not afraid of having rookies on the team, and if those guys step up to the plate and play really well, I’ll be delighted to welcome them to the team. Generally, all I’m concerned about at the end of the day is having the 12 strongest players to represent Europe at this time next year.
“We have 47 events now and not everybody can be expected to play all 47. The players tailor their schedule according to courses that would suit them, and where they think they are going to play well on.”
The inaugural Final Series offers a combined prize pool of just under €23 million across four limited-field events, including the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai.
Eligibility for the four events varies, although it does favour the bigger names already in the top 50 in the world rankings, but McGinley does not feel they are too exclusive.
“Anybody on the Tour can qualify for those events and everybody has got an equal opportunity to qualify,” the 46-year-old said. “Certainly, it’s harder to make the team if you don’t make those events.
“If you don’t play well enough to get into the Majors then you can argue the point to say those guys are not good enough to play Ryder Cup anyway.
“But it doesn’t really concern me because we had a situation a couple years ago where Alvaro Quiros won the Dubai World Championship and ended up not making the team. So even though you may have a big win, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to make the Ryder Cup team.
“You still have to play extremely well. Alvaro had a pretty decent season the year after, but it just shows you it has to be a phenomenal season for 12 months in order to make the team, and that’s just one case in point.
“Ultimately I’m looking for the guys who have played the best over the 12-month period and I have absolutely no hesitation about having rookies on the team or picking a rookie. Generally what I want is players who are playing the best, whether they be playing on the American tour or guys playing on the European Tour here.”