McGinley had prepared for the worst but now gets ready for a roller-coaster ride
It was just after 10.15 on Tuesday night that Paul McGinley took his place between Thomas Bjorn and Tour chief executive George O’Grady in the Regal Ballroom with the little gold Ryder Cup trophy on the table.
By the time he saw his bed, it was just shy of five o’clock in the morning. American TV schedules decreed he was answering calls and doing pieces to camera right through the night. A small tariff, readily paid.
With the settling of the dust came the what-ifs. McGinley knows his life is going to change now. His phone will buzz and ping at times of the day and night that won’t suit him, he’ll cover more miles and make nice at more setpiece events than he has ever had to before this.
Playing golf will be an afterthought, if it’s a thought at all. There will surely be times when he wonders what he’s gotten himself into. So in the feverish build-up to Tuesday night’s vote when it looked for a while like things might not go his way, he must have prepared for the worst. “Yes I did,” he says. “I had notes in my pocket about how I was going to project myself and what I was going to do. I had prepared for both eventualities and fortunately I’m speaking from the right side of the fence. I assured George and Richard [Hills, Ryder Cup director] that I would act with integrity expected by the tour.
“If it wasn’t going to be despite the players’ support, I would wish the winner the best of luck and leave it at that knowing that it was probably my last opportunity. I don’t think I was going to be captain in two years’ time. It would have been sore but I have so many irons in the fire. I’ve got six different sponsors and they had all renewed before the decision was made, irrespective of what that was. That means a lot to me.”
From here on each day will be one of deliberation for McGinley. On what sort of captain he will be in September of next year, on where and when and how he will organise the announcement of his team. On who will be by his side – we can take it that a Scottish vice-captain is a given but beyond that nothing is certain.
One thing he might tweak is the qualifying process and the order in which players are picked. As it stands, it’s the top five in the European points list followed by the top five in the World equivalent.
With so many of his players based in the US now, McGinley is open to the idea of flipping them around. “I’m going to have to sit down and look at that.
“The goalposts have changed a little bit as we’ve not got more players on the PGA Tour than it was for the last two captains. I will do all my stats on the players, look back on the last two years and see where we are as my objective is to have the best 12 players for the European team, though at the same time taking into account players showing loyalty to the European Tour.