Paul McGinley stance on ‘horses for courses’ adds Ryder incentive
European captain not disappointed with turnout for Johnnie Walker Championship
Paul McGinley the European Ryder Cup Captain prior to the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles yesterday. Photograph: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images
The qualifying race for the Ryder Cup does not start until next week, but with the Johnnie Walker Championship getting under way at 2014 host venue Gleneagles today, the biennial contest is already dominating the agenda.
Only two players from Europe’s ‘Miracle of Medinah’ are in the field – defending champion Paul Lawrie and Italy’s Francesco Molinari – despite it being the last such event before the clash with Tom Watson’s American side next September.
European captain Paul McGinley insisted he was not disappointed with such a turnout, the Dubliner recognising it clashes with the first FedEx Cup play-off event in the United States. McGinley also thinks players can quickly adapt to the PGA Centenary Course, which has undergone significant changes since it first hosted the tour event in 1999, but at the same time said he is a firm believer in “horses for courses” and that a win on Sunday could play a major part when it comes to deciding his three wild cards next year.
So far in his Ryder Cup career Molinari has not needed a wild card, qualifying outright for the victories at Celtic Manor and Medinah, but the 30-year-old can also boast some pretty impressive course form if necessary.
In seven visits to Gleneagles, Molinari has finished in the top 10 four times, including a share of third in 2010 when his brother Edoardo won the event to earn a wild-card pick from captain Colin Montgomerie.
“I always enjoy coming back here,” said Francesco, whose half with Tiger Woods in the final singles at Medinah ensured Europe won, rather than simply retained, the Ryder Cup. “I think it was my first top-10 on the European Tour here (joint sixth in 2005) so I’ve got good memories of that.
“We came on holiday to Scotland a couple of times with my parents when we were younger, it feels almost like home. I think I was 15 at the time, so Edoardo would have been 17. Edoardo underwent thumb surgery in America earlier this month and will be out until November.
Shane Lowry, who showed decent form in the US PGA at Oak Hill, leads an Irish contingent that also features Russian Open winner Michael Hoey, Simon Thornton, Peter Lawrie, Damien McGrane, Paul McGinley, Gareth Maybin, David Higgins and Gareth Shaw, who has been given a sponsor’s invite.