x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Paul McGinley named as Europe's Ryder Cup captain for 2014

Paul McGinley has been confirmed as captain of the European team at the 2014 Ryder Cup during a press conference in Abu Dhabi this evening.

Paul McGinley.
Paul McGinley.

ABU DHABI // A mere month ago, Colin Montgomerie was picked to be enshrined in the World Golf Hall of Fame.

This time around, the ballot totals were not as kind.

In a vote of his peers on the European Tour's tournament committee Tuesday on Saadiyat Island, the 49-year-old Scot was passed over for a second go-round as Ryder captain in favor of a man who served as his assistant in Wales three years ago.

Paul McGinley, 46, a journeyman player from Ireland known more for his terms as a Ryder assistant than anything he's accomplished with his clubs in the recent past, instead was given the reins to the team that has won seven of the past nine Ryder matches.

It might be the first pick selected by Twitter. It all but proved that it certainly helps to have influential friends voicing unequivocal opinions via social media.

"Obviously, I am thrilled and delighted to have this honor to lead the team," McGinley said. "To be leading the cream of the crop in a Ryder Cup will be a huge honor. It's a humbling experience to be sitting in this seat."

European Tour commissioner George O'Grady said the tournament committee made it "a unanimous decision."

Player support had been firmly behind McGinley for the past week, with a list of prominent Ryder players including Luke Donald and Rory McIlroy making public pronouncements about his worthiness as the team boss in Scotland in 2014.

Clearly, the players on the committee were listening.

McGinley hasn’t won on the European Tour since 2005, but has established a respected pedigree in the team room. He played on three winning Ryder Cup teams, holing the winning putt in 2002, was a two-time captain in the Seve Trophy competition between mainland Europe and a team from the UK and Ireland, and has twice served as an assistant captain at the Ryder.

"This committee is 100 per cent behind this captain," committee chairman Thomas Bjorn said. "I think we made the right decision. We listened to our players."

The world No 1 McIlroy thrice threw his weight behind McGinley in a 24-hour span, and he also has been backed publicly by No. 3 Donald, No 5 Justin Rose, all members of the winning 2012 Ryder side.

Ian Poulter, ranked No 14, also campaigned on McGinley's behalf via his Twitter account.

"I don’t Twit," McGinley laughed. "But one thing I have learned from this is the power of Twitter ... That was a big card that Rory played for me."

Said a player on the tournament committee, who likened his role to being a senator reacting to the comments of his constituents: "How can you not listen to players like Poulter, Rose, Donald and McIlroy? Absolutely I've heard what they said."

The selection has been hard to chart for weeks as candidates have bowed out and the momentum seemed to shift depending on the day.

"Like a yo-yo, my chances seemed to go up and down," McGinley said, who was reading every story he could lay eyes on. "I feel I had a real good apprenticeship with the Seve Trophies."

The gulf between the accomplishments of US captain Tom Watson is pretty wide. Watson has more British Open titles, with five, that McGinley has regular European Tour wins, four.

"My career is very modest compared to the ex-captains," McGinley said. "I obviously don't match the records of what they achieved. What I did do well for whatever reason was play in team events."

McIlroy, who played for McGinley at the 2009 Seve Trophy, has been insistently beating the drum for McGinley since he arrived in the UAE. He threw his 167 pounds of weight around to great effect.

"I have a very strong opinion about this," he said. "I really think Paul deserves it. Of all the captains that I have played under, he might have been the best."

Conversely, there was no groundswell of support from the troops for Montgomerie, the winning captain in 2010 who flatly stated moments after winning in Wales that it was a "one-off" appearance as captain. Seems he was right after all.

McIlroy, Donald and Poulter all played under Monty, arguably the greatest Ryder player in the exhibition's occasionally contentious history, in 2010. McGinley has a career Ryder record of 2-2 with five halves.

Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke was also in the captaincy mix until he withdrew last week in South Africa for somewhat vague reasons. Perhaps he read the tea leaves, if not took note of the growing support McGinley had amassed.

The European pick played out completely differently from that of the American side. In a major departure from form, the US team named Tom Watson, 63, who hadn't captained the team since 1993. He'll be the oldest captain in event history.

Unlike Watson, the European side has never called back a captain for another belated tenure after another selection had served in the interim.

Interestingly, McGinley and Monty are both members of the tournament committee that was charged with debating the merits of the candidates.

McIlroy stood in the back of the room as McGinley was introduced at about 10.15 p.m., smiling all the way. He said he was gratified that the European side didn't feel the need to counteract the elevation of Hall of Famer Watson on the US side by bringing in a repeat pick with glitzier credentials.

"Happy, yeah," he said. "I didn’t think the right thing to do was react to that. The Ryder Cup is won on the golf course, not on stages where speeches are made."

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