Sport Ryder Cup

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Paul McGinley can breathe sigh of relief but has little time to relax

Phil Casey

Published 03/09/2014 | 15:19

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Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley announced his captain's picks on Tuesday afternoon
Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley announced his captain's picks on Tuesday afternoon

Paul McGinley has been a busy man the last few days, what with playing in the Italian Open, watching the Ryder Cup qualifying race come down to a thrilling climax and then naming his three wild cards on Tuesday and three more vice-captains on Wednesday.

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The small matter of the 40th Ryder Cup itself lurks on the horizon, with Europe seeking an eighth win in the last 10 contests at Gleneagles from September 26-28.

Win, lose or draw, McGinley will no doubt breathe a sigh of relief when it is all over, but the Dubliner will not get to relax too long after the final putt drops on the PGA Centenary Course at the end of the month.

That is because the 47-year-old will also be charged with helping to choose his successor, who will lead the team at Hazeltine in 2016.

Since 1999, the captain was selected by the European Tour's 15-strong tournament committee, but changes announced in August last year mean the responsibility now falls to the previous three captains (McGinley, Jose Maria Olazabal and Colin Montgomerie), the Tour's chief executive and a tournament committee representative.

As with his wild cards, McGinley is likely to have plenty of options to choose from, with Darren Clarke, Thomas Bjorn, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Padraig Harrington all possible contenders.

McGinley interestingly made Harrington and Jimenez two of his vice-captains on Wednesday, Harrington getting his first experience of the role and Jimenez his third.

Bjorn of course is playing on the team, while Clarke was favourite to be captain this year - one newspaper even said it was a 'done deal' - before withdrawing to concentrate on his playing career.

That playing career has not produced a single top-10 finish on the European Tour in the last 32 months, but Clarke showed signs of improvement with a share of 18th place in Turin on Sunday.

"It has been very frustrating," Clarke told Press Association Sport. "Like all of us out here, you put the time in and you work hard and you like to see results and I haven't been seeing any at all.

"I've been in America and haven't played an awful lot but I know (about not having a top-10 in Europe) and I am working as hard, if not harder than ever. That is the game unfortunately, there are highs and lows. I've had my share of highs and it's been tough this past while."

The former Open champion then diplomatically side-stepped a question on the Ryder Cup wild card debate, adding with a smile: "Two of the toughest things I would imagine with being Ryder Cup captain would be to make the picks, and then to have to phone the guys who are right on the cusp and don't make it. That's not a very enviable position."

When it was pointed out he could be in that position in 2016, Clarke smiled again. "Not up to me that," he said.

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