McGinley soaking up the good will
“Why try to compete against Tom Watson? We don’t have anybody of that stature - the only man who could compete against Watson is unfortunately no longer with us and that’s Sevé (Ballesteros).”
He added: “I’m relishing the opportunity of going against my boyhood hero. He is a guy that I really respect. He is a hard man and a fair man.”
Two weeks after the “Miracle of Medinah”, when Europe came down from 10-4 down to keep the cup thanks to Martin Kaymer’s six-foot putt, one newspaper reported Darren Clarke had won the race to take over from victorious captain José Maria Olazabal.
McGinley did not despair. “I was surprised, but I knew it wasn’t true. I’m on that committee and no-one had contacted me. Last time it was quite clear it was going to be Ollie, but Thomas (chairman Thomas Bjorn) still had to call every person on that committee to get their authority before he could release the news.
“I had not received a phone call, so I knew it wasn’t the case.”
Rather than coming out fighting with his own claims to the job, however, McGinley, with advice from his wife Alison and friends, decided to hold his tongue.
McIlroy and others did the talking for him instead and it paid off. Clarke eventually decided not even to make himself available for selection, but instead along came Montgomerie.
Again McGinley was surprised. “He said quite clearly (after the 2010 victory) that he was not going to go again,” he said. “Having said that, he was totally within his rights to change his mind. I had no problem with it. He said some really nice things to me in the corridor when the decision was made. I know he will be very supportive of me and the European team.”
Paul Lawrie, Sandy Lyle and Miguel Angel Jimenez were also considered at last night’s meeting and McGinley spent an anxious 58 minutes in his hotel room waiting to for white smoke.
Playing his 535th European Tour event in the Middle East this week will not be easy with all that has happened, but while most captains find their form suffers during their reign, McGinley is on such a high that Bjorn joked: “You’ll probably go and win now”.