Paul McGinley settles into Ryder Cup role

Rory McIlroy
Rory McIlroy

Paul McGinley felt the love of players and fans alike on his first full day as Europe’s new Ryder Cup captain.

And it didn’t take long for him to be reminded of the size and scope of the job he was taking on as messages of congratulations came in from around the world.

Closer to home - or rather closer to him in Abu Dhabi - came words of support from Colin Montgomerie, the 2010 captain who in the final days before the decision was taken had become his biggest rival for the task of taking on Tom Watson’s America at Gleneagles next year.

“We’ll all get behind Paul now - we wish him well,” said Montgomerie, who thinks the only chance of him captaining the side again after this is if “I do a Tom Watson” and is called upon in his sixties after a string of defeats. The same words kept coming up from all those delighted by 46-year-old McGinley becoming the first Irish captain in the history of the event.

Graeme McDowell, the 2010 match-winner, said most of them in his message - “thoughtful, articulate, prepared, motivated, fair and respected”.

So prepared, in fact, that McGinley had even thought about how best to react if he had been informed he had not been appointed.

“I had notes in my pocket about how I was going to project myself and what I was going to do,” said the man whose 10-foot putt at The Belfry won the 2002 contest and who has never lost in nine Ryder Cup or Seve Trophy matches as a player, vice-captain or captain.

“I assured George and Richard (European Tour chief executive George O’Grady and Ryder Cup director Richard Hills) that I would act with integrity expected by the Tour.”

McGinley does not attempt to disguise the fact that he does not come remotely close to Watson in what they have achieved.

The 63-year-old American has twice as many majors - eight, including five Opens, four of them in Scotland - as the Dubliner has tournament wins.

Even Rory McIlroy calls it a “David and Goliath” situation, but McGinley agreed with the way Padraig Harrington put it.

“Why try to compete against Tom Watson? We don’t have anybody of that stature - the only man who could compete against Watson is unfortunately no longer with us and that’s Seve (Ballesteros),” said Harrington.