Paul McGinley: Next year's Ryder Cup will be too close to call
Europe captain Paul McGinley believes next year's Ryder Cup will be a heavyweight contest which will again be decided by the narrowest of margins.
Europe have won seven of the last nine biennial contests, including the 'Miracle of Medinah' comeback from 10-6 down last year, causing the PGA of America to ask Tom Watson to reprise his role as captain at The Belfry in 1993, the last time the USA tasted success on European soil.
But although McGinley accepts Watson's assertion that the home side will be favourites at Gleneagles, he is not expecting a repeat of the record nine-point wins he was part of as a player in 2004 and 2006.
"The margin between the two teams is so slight. It has been for a number of years," said McGinley, who was a vice-captain to Jose Maria Olazabal at Medinah.
"And Lady Luck, I can tell you right now, has shone on us at the right times in the last two Ryder Cups, there's been no doubt about it and we have been fortunate to come out on the right side.
"I'm well aware that the margin between the two teams is very slight, and I think it's going to be a very closely-fought contest, and that's what makes the Ryder Cup so special and that's why everybody has such an interest.
"We know it's going to be in boxing terms a heavyweight contest from toe-to-toe, from start to finish."
Watson wants his players to hold onto their feelings of depression from Medinah and use it as motivation, while he also wants to see Tiger Woods continue to play a leadership role.
"He became very much a part of the team last year, and we need him to be a leader. There's not a question about that," Watson said of the world number one, who has played on just one winning team from seven appearances and claimed only half a point from four matches at Medinah.
"I don't care who you are, if you don't look up to Tiger Woods, what he's accomplished in his career and say, I want to play like Tiger Woods, you don't know what you're talking about.
"He's had the most remarkable career probably of almost any professional golfer in the history of our game. To have him on your team....when I played in the Ryder Cup, I stood on the tee and heard several times, 'And now on the tee, Tom Watson and Jack Nicklaus'."
"You don't think that was kind of a (taking deep breath) moment; God, I've got Jack Nicklaus on my six (watching my back)."
McGinley's reply to that was simply: "We've got Ian Poulter."
Poulter inspired the comeback in Chicago with five straight birdies to win his Saturday afternoon fourball with Rory McIlroy, but if Watson had his way, the Englishman would never have been chosen as a wild card.
"If you really look at it, the purist form of Ryder Cup would be no captain's picks, 12 players who qualify," Watson said.
"That's the way I qualified. Maybe that's the way it should go back to.
"I reduced my picks this year from four to three, and was thinking actually two, because I wanted the players who are playing, to have getting on the Ryder Cup as a goal. If they got there, then they have earned something very, very special. And maybe we should go back to no picks."
McGinley effectively laughed off that suggestion, knowing that the current system could prove vital given the number of his potential team members who play in the United States.