PAUL McGinley won’t be showering praise on Scotland’s Ryder Cup hopefuls because he doesn’t want to add to the pressure on them of trying to make a dream appearance on home soil.
No-one will be more aware than McGinley, the knowledgeable European captain, that Stephen Gallacher has an outstanding record on the PGA Centenary Course at Gleneagles, venue for the match against the Americans in 13 months’ time.
Since 2001, the 38-year-old has chalked up seven top-15 finishes there, his liking for the venue having been illustrated with closing efforts of 64 and 67 as he was pipped in a play-off by Englishman Tommy Fleetwood in a play-off for the Johnnie Walker Championship on Sunday.
However, as the keenly anti-cipated race for spots on the European team kicks off in the ISPS Handa Wales Open at Celtic Manor on Thursday, McGinley has told the likes of Gallacher, Marc Warren and Richie Ramsay not to expect him to be coming out after each event and talking up their chances, if only for their own good.
“As best as I can over the next 12 months I’m going to not name names and put pressure on guys,” he declared, speaking just as Gallacher had started out in his final round at Perthshire.
“I am very reluctant, especially with the Scottish guys, to say this guy is ready to go. I don’t want to put pressure on them or people to think I am pushing one player and not another.
“Safe to say, we had three Irishmen on the team for a home Ryder Cup (at The K Club in 2006) and there is no reason why we can’t have three Scots. In their careers they probably won’t have another chance to play a Ryder Cup at home, so we will have to wait and see.”
When the qualifying race for the 2010 team in Wales got under way, European captain Colin Montgomerie revealed that he’d jotted the names of 12 players down on a piece of paper and put it in a drawer to see how close the eventual team came to that.
“Absolutely not,” replied McGinley when asked if he’d done the same thing. “The standard is so strong now that there are so many guys who can make the team.
“Psychologically I don’t want to see one guy on my list and another not on my list and treat one guy different from another. I want to really feel like I am pushing everybody.
“I don’t have a personal preference but I do have a preference for 12 guys playing well.
“It doesn’t matter which 12, as long as they are on form and playing well in the qualification process.”
While reluctant to put a figure on how many players he felt could be genuine contenders heading into a race for nine automatic spots, McGinley reckons it is a “huge number” due to the current strength in depth in European golf.
“This is why I went with three picks,” said the Irishman, who has already made a huge impression with Ryder Cup Europe and EventScotland officials as well as bosses at Gleneagles.
“I am very conscious of guys who might not necessarily qualify for the team but have played enough really good golf and might tick the boxes for a pick.
“He could be 30th in the points list, it might not be the guys who are there or thereabouts or a guy who plays rubbish in the first six months and then in the final six months is in a huge amount of form.
“Whether I pick those or not is another question, we will have to wait and see.
“There is a huge amount of people I see who are capable of making the team and stepping up to the level of Ryder Cup. I have seen the standard and played in it.
“There has got to be a huge number of players in the European Tour, playing this week, who are capable of stepping up to the plate.”