Paul McGinley believes picking a winner – Italy – in the battle to stage the 2022 Ryder Cup was the easy part for Keith Pelley. Now he’s looking to see how the new European Tour chief executive will handle the difficult bit.
“The real skill is keeping the losers – the Germans, Spanish and Austrians – onside going forward,” said the winning European captain at Gleneagles.
Germany, in particular, will surely be licking their wounds after Italy, the perceived outsiders, crept up on the rails to earn the right to become just the third country in Continental Europe to earn the chance to stage the biennial event.
Car giant BMW has been one of the European Tour’s strongest backers over a lengthy period of time, supporting the circuit’s marquee event, the PGA Championship at Wentworth, among other tournaments.
Richard Hills, Europe’s Ryder Cup director, said the Italian bid was “consistently strong and impressive across the board” and described plans for the course at the Marco Simone Golf Club in Rome as “spectacular”.
Perhaps more than ever for a Ryder Cup, however, money clearly talked on this occasion as Pelley secured a whopping increase for the Italian Open – its prize fund will be ¤7 million for 11 years from 2017 onwards.
“Italy is a surprise,” admitted McGinley. “Everybody thought Spain and Germany were the favourites. But it’s quite clear they won it because of a huge financial bid. Keith has a vision for the future of the European Tour, creating events with huge amounts of prize money, and the Ryder Cup is one of his sources of income in terms of generating a lot of money and he’s used that.
“I was shocked by what was a massive bid and it shows the size and importance of the Ryder Cup that countries are prepared to bankroll it. The success of Gleneagles outside the golf course by all accounts commercially was huge – what it brought into the country – and Italians obviously saw the value of it.
“Italy will be a great host. It’s probably not one of the hotbeds of golf, but it’s a chance to promote the European Tour in a beautiful city that Rome is.”
The Irishman, of course, has now handed the reins over to Darren Clarke for next year’s Ryder Cup at Hazeltine, where McGinley is content to to be part of the Sky Sports commentary team.
“Do I miss it? Of course I do,” he said during a visit to Glasgow as guest of honour at the PGA in Scotland annual luncheon. “I have been involved in every Ryder Cup since 1999 barring 2008 when [Nick] Faldo was captain. It’s been a part of my life, my fabric, who I am and my career and my family life and my personal life.
“But, while I miss it I have moved forward and am doing other exciting things in my life. I won’t be involved again at any level. It’s time for somebody else to come in and put their ideas in place.”