Paul McGinley names Des Smyth and Sam Torrance as Ryder Cup vice-captains
Further appointments will come after team is finalised for Gleneagles
Des Smyth has been named as one of Paul McGinley’s vice-captains for the Ryder Cup. Former captain Sam Torrance will also assist McGinley at Gleneagles in September. Photograph: Phil Inglis/Getty Images
A further two vice-captains will not be chosen until the team itself is finalised on September 2nd, with several candidates still hoping to qualify to play at Gleneagles instead.
McGinley often plays ‘money games’ against Torrance at Sunningdale and has made no secret of his admiration of the Scot’s captaincy in 2002, with the biennial contest postponed for 12 months following the 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States.
McGinley was among the players whose form had dipped in the intervening period, but Torrance took him and Lee Westwood to The Belfry while the rest of the team was competing in Ireland and, over a bottle of pink champagne, outlined exactly what was going to happen.
“It was behind the scenes that Sam made a huge impression on me as a player on that team,” McGinley said. “I felt that tactically he made so many right calls.
“I think he understood the players and I think he understood what the Ryder Cup was about, and his ability to motivate the players and to communicate with the players had very much a lasting impression on me.”
Torrance, 60, said: “Everyone knows how much the Ryder Cup has meant to me over my career so I am absolutely delighted to be involved once again.
“Paul was a special part of my team at The Belfry in 2002 and he knows I will do everything possible to help him and the team at Gleneagles in September. And if I can do a tenth for Paul’s team what he did for my team, we’ll both be very happy men.
“Our role as vice-captains, the analogy I would use is the captain is almost like your headmaster. He’s quite a daunting figure to a player and when you’ve got a problem, sometimes the player would hide that problem rather than go and speak to the captain, and that’s why we’re there as the vice-captains. We are the buffer between the captain.
“So the player will come to us with a problem. We can sort that problem 99.9 per cent of the time, and if we can’t, then we’ll take it to Paul. He’s got enough on his mind that week. That’s one of the things we can do to help there.”
McGinley described fellow Irishman Smyth, who also played in the Ryder Cup in 1979 and 1981, as “very inspirational, astute, a voice of reason,” adding: “Des took me under his wing when I was a young rookie on Tour and he gave me tremendous advice which was not only valuable then but has continued to ring true for me throughout my professional career.
“His views and ideas about the Ryder Cup particularly have consistently proved to be spot on and I really enjoyed working with him as a vice captain in 2006 when I was a player.”
Smyth, who was also named as a vice-captain to Miguel Angel Jimenez for this month’s inaugural EurAsia Cup, has not played on the European Tour since 2002 but the 61-year-old said: “It’s something I’m really looking forward to and I’m looking forward to meeting some of the young players that I haven’t seen live yet, like this young man (Victor) Dubuisson, he looks a wonderful player.
“I know Rory (McIlroy) so I know some of the younger ones and I’ll reacquaint with the guys I already know for years and played with.”
McGinley had originally planned to name his vice-captains in May or June, but will now wait until after the team itself is finalised on September 2nd before completing his backroom staff.
“There are probably 15 guys that would be good as vice-captains,” McGinley added. “I want to see the team evolve and garner opinion from the players as they make the team.
“I’m mindful of not going too far down the road. A lot of my potential vice-captains I would like to see on the team and a lot of them are going to make a good shout of making the team.
“I don’t want to distract them by talking to them about vice-captaincy roles, I want them to be focused on one thing only over the summer period and that’s their golf.”
Europe have won seven of the last nine Ryder Cups, including the ‘Miracle at Medinah’ in 2012 when Jose Maria Olazabal’s side recovered from 10-6 down on the final day.
That prompted the PGA of America to turn to 1993 captain Tom Watson to lead the side at Gleneagles, the 64-year-old since choosing 63-year-old Andy North and 71-year-old Ray Floyd as his vice-captains.
“All three of us, we’re not under any illusions how strong this American team is going to be, it’s going to be very well led with Tom Watson and we know we’re up against it,” McGinley added.
“We know they’re a wounded animal, particularly with what happened in Medinah the way we came back on American soil. They’re going to be a very motivated but that’s good, that’s a challenge, that’s something we’re relishing and looking forward to and that’s what makes the Ryder Cup so special.”