IRELAND'S new Ryder Cup skipper Paul McGinley last night made a light-hearted pledge to Rory McIlroy for going above and beyond the call of duty to ensure the Dubliner's greatest dream in golf came true.
Saying he was "humbled" and "honoured" by the way in which so many of Europe's greatest golfers rowed in behind his captaincy bid, McGinley paid special tribute to world No 1 McIlroy.
And McGinley (46) made McIlroy a pledge he'll not have to keep, saying: "If Rory doesn't make the team, he's got a good chance of a pick now."
Reaching for the gleaming Ryder Cup, the Rathfarnham man went on: "I'm going to grab this cup and this task with both hands and represent Europe as best I can and support the players who offered me such strong backing."
McIlroy, who twice tweeted his support for McGinley as the Dubliner maintained a dignified silence in the fraught final few weeks of the race, then spoke publicly with remarkable authority and eloquence on his behalf in recent days.
"The creme de la creme was the endorsement of the players," McGinley explained. " Ian Poulter was extremely strong for me and I'm grateful to all of the guys who lined up for me, but to be endorsed by Rory particularly was a big card. It's very humbling."
McIlroy expressed his delight and relief that the Tournament Players Committee heeded the wave of support for McGinley from Europe's Ryder Cup team and many other Tour top players.
"I'm absolutely thrilled for Paul," said McIlroy, who made his pro team golf debut on the Seve Trophy side led to victory by McGinley in Paris in 2009.
"As soon as I found out he'd been appointed captain, I couldn't wait to rush down and congratulate him. I've been saying all along that the captaincy should be a one-time-only deal because there are so many candidates waiting for their chance ... and Paul definitely comes into that category.
"I'd like to think it means something when you've got players like myself, Ian Poulter, Luke Donald and Justin Rose all saying that they want Paul McGinley to captain the team. I was worried for a while our opinion might not be heeded but it worked out in the end."