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Jacklin confident that this is McGinley's time to shine

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Paul McGinley

Paul McGinley

SPORTSFILE

Paul McGinley

In backing Paul McGinley to deliver a European victory this week, Tony Jacklin blamed politics within the British PGA for Ireland's long wait before finally having its first Ryder Cup captain. "And where venues were concerned, they would have kept the event in England every year," he added.

Jacklin, who did more than anybody to shape Europe's current dominance of the series, will be in Gleneagles as a particularly interested observer. "Christy O'Connor Snr clearly deserved the honour as a great player and a great Ryder Cup representative," he said.

"Why were contemporaries Bernhard Hunt and Eric Brown honoured and not Christy? You could also ask why Peter Alliss missed out, a fact that I think still stings him. And Sandy Lyle was another to be overlooked. There was a lot of politics tied up in these things.

"I have never been a committee person and I sure as hell don't want to be. Some strange things have happened over the years on the European Tour that I haven't been party to. I would love to have been a fly on the wall when they decided to ask me to be captain in 1983 because I'd fallen out with all of them. They must have been desperate.

"When the matter of future venues was raised in the 1980s, I insisted that the matches should go to Continental Europe, with Spain top of the list. It was 1997 before it eventually went to Valderrama and I always thought it a shame it didn't go to Madrid. But as I've said, there was a lot of politics at work."

Regarding the current captain, Jacklin said: "He's obviously had a very different playing career to Tom Watson, but Paul's got incredible back-up with his vice-captains. Though the buck clearly stops with him, he's got all the experience in the world to call on if he needs it.

"I think Paul is more than capable of making the right decisions."

And Watson? "Pushing aside for the week the egos of megastars and multi-millionaires is never easy, and I suspect it was a problem for Davis Love at Medinah. But if anyone can do it, Watson can. He won't take any prisoners. He won't be frightened of speaking his mind in front of his players.

"Taking an overall view, Europe with home advantage are holding all the aces. And as a captain, they've got a well-rounded guy who is well-liked and very thorough. On that basis, I don't anticipate any problems for Paul."

Finally, it wouldn't have seemed right to let Jacklin go without recalling his words to Christy O'Connor Jnr at the climactic stage of his match against Fred Couples in 1989. The former captain did so with relish.

"Having seen Couples clearly twitch on a five-footer on the 17th green, I went straight to Christy before they teed-off the 18th and said: 'Christy, you've got him. Just hit a good drive here and you've got him where you want him.' And Christy hit a great tee shot while Couples pulled his. Only his length kept him out of the water.

"As Christy stood over a two-iron shot of 229 yards, I said to him: 'Come on, Christy. One more good swing for Ireland.' They were my words exactly. And he nailed it, causing Couples to completely miss the green with no more than an eight iron."

There you had the essence of Jacklin's remarkable qualities of leadership.

And his final words to McGinley? "This is Paul's time to shine as a people manager, and I wish him well."

As part of a British and Irish Tour, Tony Jacklin will be at The Ballsbridge Hotel on Friday, October 10 for the BetterGolf.ie Legends of Sport Lunch, in association with the GUI National Golf Academy.

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