Sport Golf

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Plenty more inspired calls to come from McGinley

Karl MacGinty

Published 29/01/2013 | 05:00

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AMID the cordite and thunder of the Ryder Cup, there are many fleeting moments in which people show their true colours.

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The man-management skills which made Paul McGinley a landslide choice among his peers for Ryder Cup captain were nicely illustrated by one such incident on the Friday at Medinah.

After walking with Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia that morning as they lost their unbeaten foursomes record to Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley, I understand McGinley had a quiet chat with the Englishman.

As Donald wasn't scheduled to play in the afternoon, he asked the vice-captain what he'd be required to do – practise or support his European team-mates in the fourballs.

Like Rory McIlroy and Lee Westwood, Donald had soldiered through the FedEx Cup series to its Tour Championship finale the previous Sunday and fatigue clearly compounded his frustration that morning.

Noting Donald's demeanour, McGinley plucked an inspired proposal from left field.

Long-time Chicago resident Donald lives less than 25 miles north of Medinah – so the Dubliner suggested that Donald and his wife Diane might like to drive there and chill for several hours with their two daughters.

Of course, this was a decision only team captain Jose Maria Olazabal could make, so he got on the radio to the Spaniard.

There was opposition from other back-room team members, who argued that every team player, without favour, should remain within the camp until their Ryder Cup duty was done. Yet Olazabal, sagely recognising how a little leeway could make all the difference to a key European player, gave the go-ahead ... on the understanding that the Donalds would be back in plenty of time for Luke to attend the team meeting at 7.0 that evening.

Clearly, the Spaniard and McGinley knew their man.

Donald returned renewed, refreshed and with his confidence fully restored.

Though he and Westwood walked into the Mickelson-Bradley buzz-saw the following morning, Donald played sublimely with Sergio Garcia to take a crucial point from Tiger Woods and Steve Stricker in the afternoon fourballs.

Then he led the greatest comeback in Ryder Cup history by beating Bubba Watson in the opening match on Sunday, proving once again that it's many small yet inspired decisions captains take which ultimately make the difference between victory and defeat.

Irish Independent

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