x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

McGinley set to be named Ryder Cup captain

Ireland's influence on world golf is about to grow even stronger with Paul McGinley widely expected to be named Europe's Ryder Cup captain in 2014.

Paul McGinley is one of the most popular men on tour as well.
Paul McGinley is one of the most popular men on tour as well.

Ireland's influence on world golf is about to grow even stronger with Paul McGinley widely expected to be named Europe's Ryder Cup captain in 2014.

The Dubliner will lead the charge of Great Britain and Ireland for what is sure to be an emotional Vivendi Seve Trophy in Paris from September 15 to 18.

With Northern Ireland claiming three majors over the past 14 months, through Graeme McDowell, Rory McIlroy and Darren Clarke, it is the turn for golf south of the border to see one of their own enjoy the spotlight.

McGinley, now 44, is one of the most popular men on tour and should he gel his team together in France, when they take on mainland Europe, it seems highly likely he will become the Ryder Cup captain three years from now at Gleneagles in Scotland.

He led the side to a 16.5-11.5 victory on the same Saint-Nom-la-Breteche course two years ago, so nothing short of a disaster should prevent his coronation.

But everything is not as simple as it may seem.

With the event clashing with the FedEx Cup play-offs in America it remains to be seen how many stars turn down a match which carries extra significance this year following the death of Seve Ballesteros, in whose honour it was first added to the European Tour schedule in 2000.

So, while McGinley may prove to be an excellent leader both on and off the course, it remains to be seen how many potential 2014 players will actually be in France.

The Irishman, one of Colin Montgomerie's vice-captains in last October's victory at Celtic Manor, said: "It's a great honour to be invited back as captain. I enjoyed it enormously last time. [But] I am not thinking about the Ryder Cup. All I want to do is get the team ready for this tournament.

"Obviously with Seve's sad passing earlier this year, there will be added poignancy, particularly with Jose Maria [Olazabal] being involved. Two years ago Seve was in our thoughts, both in the team room and outside. I'm sure he'll be looking down on us and hopefully we can put on an event worthy of him."

McGinley was the ultimate team player in 2002, where he holed the winning putt, 2004 and 2006, in Ireland, when he helped Europe to three Ryder Cup wins in a row.

He was strongly behind Montgomerie this time last year when he left out Paul Casey and Justin Rose, because they failed to play enough events in Europe.

The FedEx Cup is worth a lot of money. If certain players do not report for duty next month, it might just count against them if they haven't automatically qualified for 2014.

ncameron@thenational.ae


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