Sunday 8 December 2019

McGinley: Seeing Luke will be tough

European captain Paul McGinley is dreading his next meeting with Luke Donald after overlooking his former Ryder Cup team-mate for a wild card.

McGinley selected Stephen Gallacher, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood for the biennial contest against the United States from September 26-28, with Donald missing out despite his superb record in team golf.

The former world number one achieved a 7-1 record in two Walker Cup wins and has claimed 10 and a half points from 15 matches in four previous Ryder Cup appearances, all of which ended in a European victory.

The 36-year-old also partnered Paul Casey to World Cup glory in 2004 but has paid the price for an indifferent season, recording just one top-10 finish on the European Tour in 2014.

Donald's very first Ryder Cup match was with McGinley against Stewart Cink and Chris Riley on the opening morning in 2004, but McGinley refused to let emotion get in the way of his decision.

"There's bigger things in life than making a phone call regarding sport, but it was a very, very difficult thing for me to do because of my personal relationship with Luke, because we get on so well," said McGinley, who was also designated to "look after" Donald when he was vice-captain in 2010 and 2012.

"We've shared so many emotions together in extreme circumstances. There's a whole load of things that went on at Medinah two years ago that people aren't even aware of.

"His first Ryder Cup, he was so beset with nerves he didn't hit a shot for the first six holes, but he came through. At the 18th, he hit a two iron onto the green when we really needed it for a half point.

"When you have that kind of experience with somebody you never forget it. You bond with them. I have a very strong bond and feeling with Luke, and the next time I see him it's going to be very tough."

McGinley admitted that the PGA Centenary Course at Gleneagles does not favour a relatively short hitter like Donald, while adding that is was small glimpses of form from Westwood that made the difference.

"Ian Poulter has never really shown a huge amount of form going into Ryder Cups in the past so I wasn't that perturbed about seeing a lot of form from him," he added.

"The second easiest decision was Gallacher and the third one was the very difficult one between Lee, Luke and Francesco (Molinari). It was a very short head but ultimately that little flourish of form Lee showed around the US PGA time and Firestone was a flourish that Luke wasn't able to show and that's how close it came down to.

"There was some decent form after four missed cuts in a row. I asked him (Westwood) to show me some form and he stepped up to the plate and produced. Luke played very consistent but he didn't have those green shoots of real form that I saw from Lee."

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