McIlroy backs McGinley for Gleneagles


AN ORDERLY queue is forming to succeed José-Maria Olazabal as captain when Europe defends the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in two years’ time. And, although a decision won’t be made until next January, world number one Rory McIlroy sees no reason why there would not be an Irish captain for the next two matches: Paul McGinley in Scotland in 2014, and Darren Clarke at the helm in Hazeltine in 2016.

“I’m just starting to make the team for a start,” quipped McIlroy, before – in a more serious tone – adding: “I’ve always said I think Clarkey would be a great captain over here (in the USA). I think the crowds really love him here. So, maybe let’s see if Darren is up for 2016. For the next time around (in Gleneagles), there are a lot of guys who have a chance to do it. Whoever ends up doing it would be a great captain . . . Paul (McGinley) was fantastic at the Seve Trophy. He is a fantastic vice-captain (at Medinah).”

A decision on a successor to Olazabal will be made by the European Tour tournament committee – chaired by Thomas Bjorn, of which Clarke and McGinley are also members but expected to remove themselves from any decision-making on the matter – early next year, at the Abu Dhabi championship.

Apart from McGinley and Clarke, others believed to be in the running for the post include Colin Montgomerie, who captained the team at Celtic Manor in 2010. Such is the list of viable candidates, however, it is likely the days of repeat captaincies (such as the Tony Jacklin, Bernard Gallacher eras) are gone.

For his part, McIlroy – who is not playing in this week’s Dunhill Links in Scotland – will next compete in the Turkish Airlines World Golf Final in Belek next week, a limited-field tournament that also features Tiger Woods.

McIlroy’s contribution to Europe’s win in Medinah, where he garnered three points from five matches, saw him play his best golf in Sunday’s singles against Keegan Bradley when he required a state trooper – with lights flashing – to give him a front-seat ride in a race against time to get to the course.

Of the incident, McIlroy – who’d been awake for over two hours and had made a phone call to girlfriend Caroline Wozniacki, who was in Beijing – recalled: “For some reason I had it in my head I was out at 12.25 instead of 11.25. I got a couple of missed calls from a funny number at half 10 and I thought, ‘who’s that?’. Then I got a call from Conor Ridge, my manager, a call saying, ‘Are you at the golf course yet?’ And I was saying, ‘No, I’m not’. And he was saying, ‘You’re teeing off in 25 minutes’. And I was, ‘No, I’m not. I’m teeing off in an hour and 25’. And he said, ‘No, you’re not’. And then he said, ‘Rory, you are taking the piss?’ And I was, ‘No, I’m not at the golf course. And he said, ‘Well, you’d better get there’.”

McIlroy, who claimed a second career Major when winning the USPGA at Kiawah Island last month, said the Ryder Cup was “one of the highlights” of a stellar season. As he explained: “It is hard to single it out because there have been so many great moments this year. I think it just puts a cap on such a great season for me . . . It would have been nice to come here with a nice big cheque (from the FedEx Cup) last week but still, second place was alright. It’s just been a wonderful way to cap off what’s been a wonderful season.”

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