Saturday 20 January 2018

McGinley ready for backroom role in Monty's Ryder regime

Bernie McGuire in Versailles

Paul McGinley looks certain to make a return to the European Ryder Cup team after announcing he is interested in acting as one of Colin Montgomerie's vice-captains.

The player, who holed the winning putt in 2002 at The Belfry, has avoided any discussion of acting in a support role ever since Montgomerie was announced as captain early last year.

But with the confirmation that Jose Maria Olazabal wants to take no part in supporting the Celtic Manor team, McGinley has become favourite to join Denmark's Thomas Bjorn as a vice-captain when Monty makes his choices known shortly after the British Open in two weeks' time.

"I know my name has been mentioned, but I actually haven't been asked yet but if I was asked, I would say 'yes', so it is likely I would consider it if I was asked," said McGinley from Versailles where he tees-up today in the French Open.

Olazabal had cleared any air of uncertainty moments earlier in his first tournament appearance in Europe since last October's Castellon Masters in Spain.

The 44-year-old double-winning US Masters champion has been sidelined with severe shoulder and joint pains and despite countless specialist referrals, Olazabal says he is no closer to resolving the issue.

After the French Open, Olazabal intends taking the remainder of the summer off in an effort to regain full fitness. However, he has confirmed that he will not been travelling to Celtic Manor in October, whether as a member of Montgomerie's back-room team or as an official guest.

"No, I am not going to be a vice-captain as I have done it before, and besides, I have more important issues going on with my health," said Olazabal. "I want to give myself the best chance to rid myself from this pain I am experiencing in my body, so I don't need that extra pressure involved with being part of a Ryder Cup team.

And McGinley, upon learning of Olazabal's stance, stressed the need to avoid taking any negatives from the Spaniard's decision.

"Let's not turn Ollie's decision into a negative as the European team is going to be the strongest team ever in the history of the Ryder Cup and there is no doubt about that," said McGinley, ranked at 76 in the Order of Merit.

"We are going to be strong favourites for the first time. It's going to be a very positive experience and the fact that Olazabal doesn't want the job then maybe he didn't enjoy the job at Valhalla. He no doubt has his reasons.

"He's a very private guy and hugely respected by all the players, and the one thing he has more than anything is his integrity and if he doesn't want the role, then so be it."

McGinley's main focus will be on this week's €3m French Open and apart from a first Tour win in five years, he also will be striving to secure a ticket to the British Open.

The leading player among the top five finishers in either the French Open or next week's Scottish Open, and not already exempt, will earn a place at the Old Course on July 15.

Joining McGinley in France are eight other Irish players headed by world No 10 Rory McIlroy, who revealed he shed some tears in watching coverage of Graeme McDowell's Pebble Beach success.

"I was starting to get a bit emotional and started to cry but then Holly said to me 'what are you doing?'" he said. "I have known G-Mac for so long, and I was so pleased for him."

French Open,

live, Sky Sports 3, 9.30

Irish Independent

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