independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

McGinley confident comrade Clarke can play way into Ryder contention

Skipper moves to ease tensions after bruising battle as Monty vows to 'fly flag for Europe'

PEACE broke out in Abu Dhabi after the most fiercely contested captaincy race in Ryder Cup history.

New skipper Paul McGinley certainly will not look back in anger at events of the past six months.

And he firmly dismissed any suggestion of enmity with his two closest rivals, Darren Clarke and Colin Montgomerie, by saying: "I'm killing both things right now. I don't want to get involved in all this. I'm going forward."

Insisting he'd give Clarke a wild card to strengthen his team, McGinley went on: "Darren's played five Ryder Cups and his record is outstanding.

"I'd love to see Darren in the team and if he's not on the team, but is close to making it, he'd have a very strong consideration for a pick."

Clarke and Montgomerie both pledged their support to McGinley in his bid to lead Europe to victory over Tom Watson's US team at Gleneagles in 2014.

Monty concealed any disappointment he felt after falling short in his controversial bid to become a second-time skipper in his native Scotland.

"I was the first player to congratulate Paul on getting the job and I'm glad about that.

"I've no doubt he'll be a great captain. He's brilliant at preparation and that's the most important part of the job," said Montgomerie of the 46-year-old Dubliner, who was one of his assistants at Celtic Manor in 2010.

"We all get behind Paul now and wish him well. I appointed him for the Seve Trophy in 2009 and he did a very good job. He's a very good man-manager and very good at assessing people's strengths. I'll be there to support and fly the flag for Europe."

McGinley responded: "I've played with Monty in three Ryder Cups. He was a colossus. Everyone in Europe should be very proud of the contribution he has made to the Ryder Cup cause."

Clarke officially withdrew on Monday after an intensive election campaign which put his long friendship with McGinley under stress. "I just hope we can put everything behind us, because the important thing is that we all get behind Paul as captain and give him as much support as we can," said Clarke.

"For me, the focus is trying to play my way onto the team. That's why I announced I didn't want to be considered for the captaincy this time – I want to play and do my bit at Gleneagles."

Clarke was one of the 10 Committee Members who voted McGinley into office. "Paul was chosen unanimously but it wasn't a case of Monty not being given serious consideration," he said.

"You had two very different characters with very different attributes and we discussed it properly. But as we went around the table it was obvious that there was overwhelming support for Paul. Thomas (Bjorn, the chairman) just said, 'is there anyone opposed to Paul getting the job', and no one was."

Though McGinley maintained a dignified silence throughout, placing his faith in the support of the players, the first captaincy race of the Twitter age was so hotly controversial, the European Tour is to consider alternative methods of electing the Ryder Cup skipper.

One suggestion is a specialised selection committee made up largely of former Ryder Cup captains.

Abu Dhabi Championship,

Live, Sky Sports 1, 6.0&10.0am

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