McGinley soaking up the good will
Golf: Paul McGinley was feeling the love on his first full day as Europe’s new Ryder Cup captain, but it wasn't long before he was reminded of the size and scope of the challenge is embarking upon as messages of congratulations came in from around the world.
In Abu Dhabi, there were words of support from Colin Montgomerie, the 2010 captain who in the final days before the decision was taken had become his biggest rival for the task of taking on Tom Watson’s America at Gleneagles next year.
“We’ll all get behind Paul now — we wish him well,” said Montgomerie, who thinks the only chance of him captaining the side again after this is if “I do a Tom Watson” and is called upon in his sixties after a string of defeats. That is not something he or anybody expects. Europe have won five of the past six and seven of the past nine matches.
There were similar sentiments from others delighted by the 46-year-old's appointment as the first Irish captain yesterday.
Graeme McDowell, the 2010 match-winner, said most of them in his message — “thoughtful, articulate, prepared, motivated, fair and respected”.
So prepared, in fact, that McGinley had even thought about how best to react if he had been informed he had not been appointed.
“I had notes in my pocket about how I was going to project myself and what I was going to do,” said the man whose 10-foot putt at The Belfry won the 2002 contest and who has never lost in nine Ryder Cup or Seve Trophy matches as a player, vice-captain or captain. I assured George and Richard (European Tour chief executive George O’Grady and Ryder Cup director Richard Hills) that I would act with integrity expected by the Tour.
“If it wasn’t going to be, despite the players’ support (most importantly and most vocally that of Rory McIlroy), 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.”
McGinley makes no effort to hide the fact his career on the course does not come remotely close to what Watson has achieved.
The 63-year-old American has twice as many majors — eight, including five Opens, four of them in Scotland — as the Dubliner has tournament wins.
Even McIlroy called it a “David and Goliath” situation, but McGinley echoed Pádraig Harrington thoughts on the matter.