Magical memories of Medinah inspire McGinley as he warms to his new task
“If Medinah had been a boxing match, the referee would have been thinking of stopping it. And if we had lost the Saturday afternoon session, it would have been all over – but we didn’t because Luke and Sergio managed to get through and Poulter followed that with his absolute heroics. There’s a lovely and poignant story – and I haven’t seen it told before.
“Poulter holed his putt on the last to mean we were only four behind going into the last day’s singles. We knew teams have come back from four points down. They’ve never come back from five. Twenty minutes later, in our locker room, the music was blaring, the caddies were jumping around, the players were bear-hugging. I thought: ‘Wow, is this team winning or losing by four?’
Poulter came in and said, ‘We have a pulse.’ I thought that was so powerful: ‘We have a pulse.’ Before then we were basically on life support. And now we had a pulse. The boys were flying. For the first time we could see light. We didn’t need to say much in the team meeting that night.”
Narrowing it down
McGinley will wait until this time next year before he announces his four vice-captains. Montgomerie is unlikely to be one of them but McGinley says: “Everyone’s under consideration. I could probably list 20 guys I’d be happy with as vice-captain. My only problem will be narrowing it down.”
His immediate task is to decide how much he might change the selection process of the team – which currently uses two wild-card picks to supplement the leading 10 golfers on the European order of merit.
“I have to present my ideas at the Scottish Open . If I’m going to change the qualifying system I want to see what impact it would’ve had on previous Ryder Cups – so I’m doing lots of research. I’ve got a whole load of permutations going on and I’ll formulate them into a plan and make my recommendations.”
Could he suggest something totally fresh? “Absolutely. I have carte blanche to come up with a whole new qualification process but we’ve won seven out of the last nine. So if it ain’t broke, why fix it? I would say you’ll see a tweaking to the system rather than a radical change.”
McGinley’s enthusiasm is as obvious as his success in team competitions. “As a professional I’ve won everything as a team member. But I’ve had brilliant team-mates and been involved with great teams.”
As a captain, McGinley also steered Britain and Ireland to successive victories against Europe in the Seve Trophy in 2009 and 2011.
“In the first one we were real underdogs and Rory and Graeme McDowell hadn’t won Majors at the time and weren’t the players they are now. Rory wasn’t even in the top 50 in the world then. So it was a monumental achievement to win it and, to me, that was a very important week for me becoming Ryder Cup captain. Before then I didn’t know whether I was going to be any good or if I was going to enjoy it. But we got such a team bond and we thrived on that and had great fun together. If we do that again, in the Ryder Cup, we won’t go wrong.”