PAUL McGINLEY is just the man to go eye-to-eye with US Ryder Cup skipper Tom Watson at Gleneagles in 2014, according to Padraig Harrington.
Three-time Major winner Harrington dismisses suggestions that Europe should try to match 63-year-old US legend with a high-profile captain of their own.
"For a start," said the Dubliner, "there simply isn't anyone of Tom Watson's stature in Europe. We don't have any eight-time Major champions. So we shouldn't go down that road.
"In golf, if you're going up against a real big hitter, the last thing you try to do is compete with him – and the same logic applies in this situation.
"You don't try to compete in Watson's own back garden. You take the battle elsewhere and, in that regard, Paul's the ideal man for Europe in 2014.
"No matter who Paul comes up against, he's the type to concentrate on his own job and making sure he has all the bases covered."
Significantly, McGinley (pictured right), who has twice led Great Britain and Ireland's underdogs to victory at the Seve Trophy, also has received another powerful and timely public endorsement from world No 1 Rory McIlroy.
"Congrats to Tom Watson," the Holywood star tweeted. "I would love to see Paul McGinley go up against him as European captain at Gleneagles."
Later, McIlroy added: "For the record, I think Darren Clarke would make a great captain in the US in 2016 – both guys deserve a go."
Intriguingly, Clarke, currently playing in the Aussie PGA at Coolum, retweeted McIlroy's message of support for McGinley on his own Twitter page.
Asked why Clarke might have done that, his agent Chubby Chandler replied: "Not sure. Darren's happy to do the job in 2014."
Changes in the make-up of the European Tour's 15-man Tournament Players Committee, which chooses the next Ryder Cup captain next month, fell in McGinley's favour.
Dubliner Peter Lawrie and Italy's Francesco Molinari, one of Europe's 12 miracle-workers at Medinah, were elected onto the committee, while England's Richard Finch, an ISM stablemate of Clarke's, lost his seat.
Harrington also favours Clarke for 2016, saying: "The captaincy at Gleneagles is between Paul and Darren. Each would be a great choice, though they'd be completely different in their approach.
"Paul's exceptional flair for organisation and strategy would make him a captain in the Bernhard Langer mould, while Darren would be a motivational figure, like Ian Woosnam at the K Club.
"If the Tour was allowed appoint captains in a sequence, Paul would my choice for 2014, Darren in 2016 and then Thomas Bjorn in France in 2018.
"No doubt, Darren has the bigger profile but I don't believe Europe needs that at the moment. It'd be good if the Tour could name the next three captains in sequence but it's not as simple as that."
As for Watson, Harrington went on: "I've been aware for some time they were going to go for something out of the ordinary. Bringing out a big gun like this shows how much the Ryder Cup means to them."
"He's held in very high regard in the US and among European players too. I don't know if it's possible for an opposing captain to be intimidating, but Tom commands a lot of respect."
Playing nicely, Clarke posted a second-round 69 at Coolum to lie five off the lead held jointly by Zhang Xin Jun of China and Aussie Daniel Popovic.
Lawrie was three-under through 36 holes at the Alfred Dunhill Championship after a 71 at Leopard Creek, 10 behind Gregory Bourdy of France and Charl Schwartzel. Damien McGrane missed the cut on 10-over after yesterday's 76.
Michael Hoey retired before teeing it up in the second round.
Alfred Dunhill Championship, Day 3
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