Wednesday 25 April 2018

McGinley thrilled by European reply

Paul McGinley was pleased with the way his charges fought back to take the lead after day one
Paul McGinley was pleased with the way his charges fought back to take the lead after day one

European captain Paul McGinley was delighted with his side's record-breaking foursomes performance as he looked to help Ian Poulter recover from the "body blow" of a crushing defeat at Gleneagles.

Poulter suffered his biggest ever loss in the Ryder Cup, and first defeat in eight matches, when he and local favourite Stephen Gallacher were thrashed 5&4 by rookie duo Jordan Spieth and Patrick Reed.

But with the home side taking a record three and a half points from the four afternoon foursomes matches, they will take a 5-3 lead into the second day in search of an eighth win in the last 10 contests.

"It was a te rrific, a great response," McGinley said. "As we have all seen in Ryder Cups over the years, momentum can be a huge and key factor. It looked like at one stage we were going to win 3-1 in the morning and ended up losing 1.5 to 2.5.

"The way the Americans played the last few holes was very strong and they certainly had their tails up going into the afternoon sessions. That often can have a ripple effect and a domino effect so for our guys to react the way they did, for all four matches to be up after six holes, was a terrific response.

"It shows a huge amount of character that we have on the team, huge amount of talent that we can come out with such strong pairings in the afternoon and a great response and resilience from the team."

While Lee Westwood and Graeme McDowell helped rookies Jamie Donaldson and Victor Dubuisson to foursomes wins respectively, McGinley admitted Poulter was unsuited for a similar role with Gallacher.

"I'm fortunate that I have two senior figures on the team there that I felt would be great for the rookies," he added. "I was struggling for a third and Ian Poulter was chosen for a role that he didn't really think he was going to be chosen for.

"It's a very difficult role to perform and I've given him a very different role tomorrow."

That role is being reunited with world number one Rory McIlroy in a repeat of the afternoon fourballs from Medinah, when Poulter birdied the last five holes in a pivotal win over Jason Dufner and Zach Johnson.

" I put him back with Rory because he played the senior figure today with Stevie Gallacher and obviously it didn't go well," McGinley said. "And Ian Poulter's heart is that big, as we all know and that was a real body blow for him to lose a match heavily in a Ryder Cup.

"I just want to bring Ian Poulter back up again and put him on the shoulder of the world's best player, and I know he'll respond to that."

McGinley revealed that one of his five vice-captains, Irishman Des Smyth, had looked after the four players who were left out of the morning session, some of whom played a few holes on the course behind the final match.

And he praised the role of one of those players, 41-year-old Lee Westwood, who had narrowly pipped Luke Donald for the final wild card.

"Lee was immense, absolutely immense, for a guy in his ninth Ryder Cup, to go out with that kind of a spirit and steady the ship," McGinley added.

"That's why he was playing number one this afternoon. Situations like this morning, it was important not to overreact to it."

McGinley said he was tempted to include McDowell and Dubuisson in Saturday's fourballs following their foursomes success, but opted to keep them fresh for another foursomes outing instead.

"Victor was really, really brilliant and he really enjoyed it," McGinley added.

"I've put a lot of work into Victor over the last six months, travelled around the world with him a little bit, got to know him, and I've really got to know him and enjoy him and understand him.

"I've translated a lot of what I know about him to Graeme, so Graeme has really hit the ground running with him. You don't have to be a rocket scientist to work out that they will more than likely play tomorrow afternoon again."

Press Association

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