WHILE Paul McGinley was himself groomed to be a Ryder Cup captain, the Irishman is set to be “selfish” when it comes to completing his backroom team for the event’s first staging in Scotland for more than 40 years.
After the appointments of both Sam Torrance and Des Smyth yesterday, there will be no further announcement by the European captain about his remaining assistants until 2 September – the same day he’ll unveil three wild cards at Wentworth.
McGinley is waiting to see how the likes of Thomas Bjorn and Miguel Angel Jimenez fare in their bids to earn playing roles, with one of them, or perhaps winning 2012 captain Jose Maria Olazabal, an obvious choice to provide a Continental flavour in what will almost certainly be a four-strong support team.
According to McGinley, there are more than a dozen players – the others include Paul Lawrie and Padraig Harrington while Dunhill Links champion David Howell is another name that’s being touted – that could fit seamlessly into a European set-up that has produced seven wins in the last nine matches. But, rather than looking to the future and giving someone the experience he gained as an assistant first to Colin Montgomerie then Olazabal, McGinley is focusing purely on coming up with a winning formula for Gleneagles.
“I have been very lucky to have been a vice captain twice but, to be honest, I’m a bit selfish about this – this is about formulating the best team to win this Ryder Cup and I have to be that way,” he stressed.
“There are probably 15 guys who’d be very good as vice captains and the chances are, if I’m going to have another two vice-captains, they will be current players who are still playing on tour. So let’s just see how that evolves but, for me, it’s only about putting four people around me who are really loyal, strong, trustworthy and are going to have a strong opinion that I can use as a sounding board.”
In Torrance, his first captain in the biennial event, and Smyth, the man who mentored him as a young professional, McGinley believes he’s made two excellent choices to start with in that respect.
“We are more than mates, to be honest,” he said of the duo before going on to heap praise on Torrance for the impression he made when McGinley emerged as the European hero at The Belfry in 2002.
“That turned out a great week for both of us for different reasons,” he added. “It was the work he did behind the scenes that impressed me most. I know he was my first captain and I’m not saying other captains weren’t as good as Sam. That would be unfair.
“But that was the first time I was exposed to the Ryder Cup and so many of the things Sam had on the table and dealt with was what really brought me back to my Gaelic football days and brought me back to the team room of a Gaelic team. I really related to it and what he was doing with the team, and the braveness of his decisions tactically, and they were proved to be right at the end.”
McGinley likened himself and opposite number Tom Watson to “two heavyweight contenders” preparing for a title fight.
“He will go into his corner and I’ll go into mine but, to be honest, I am really not bothered what Tom thinks and I am sure he is the same with me,” he insisted.
“I am observing and watching what is going on but I am concerned what I am doing and how we are doing in Europe.”