January 17th, 2013
11:55 AM ET

How player power tipped Ryder Cup captaincy

Paul McGinley, left, with a young Rory McIlroy during the 2009 Seve Trophy in Paris. (Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)
Paul McGinley, left, with a young Rory McIlroy during the 2009 Seve Trophy in Paris. (Stuart Franklin/Getty Images)

Paul McGinley emerged as the new European Ryder Cup captain after receiving the very public backing of the key members of last September's winning team at Medinah.

Led by world No. 1 Rory McIlroy, the core group of stars such as Ian Poulter, Luke Donald, Graeme McDowell, Justin Rose and Francesco Molinari made their opinions known after it appeared that Colin Montgomerie might make a surprise return to the role for 2014.

The powers that be took note and it resulted in a very popular victory for the veteran Irishman, himself a former Ryder Cup hero.

There was intense speculation as to who would lead the Europeans into battle against the U.S. next year at Gleneagles in Scotland. McGinley had set out his stall well in advance and had the support of many of the leading players who have formed the nucleus of the team in recent years.

It was not without foundation. McGinley had played on three winning Ryder Cup sides and was lauded as the man who holed the winning putt when he memorably halved his match with Jim Furyk in 2002 at The Belfry in England.

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His stints as captain of the Great Britain & Ireland team in the Seve Trophy have all been winning ones, most notably in 2009's victory over Continental Europe when he gave enormous responsibility to debutant McIlroy. McGinley gained enormous respect from players at the Ryder Cup in both 2010 and 2012 when he was a key backroom member, officiating as vice-captain for Montgomerie and then Jose Maria Olazabal.

Attention to detail was his hallmark, added to a great understanding of what the players needed during a unique week of intense competition. It set him apart from his peers and led to a surge in player power when it came to the election of the 2014 captain.

As 2011 British Open champion and fellow two-time vice-captain Darren Clarke entered the fray to vy for the position and subsequently Montgomerie, it had looked unlikely that McGinley – with a less decorated CV as a player - would get the nod.

As speculation intensified and Clarke eventually pulled out of the race, it was essentially left to Montgomerie and McGinley to battle it out, while the likes of Sandy Lyle, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Paul Lawrie were also considered.

The decision lay with the Tournament Players Committee of the European Tour to decide on the outcome. Montgomerie was felt by some in the hierarchy to be a good choice.

Given his stature in the game, Ryder Cup heroics as a player and winning credentials as a captain, the 49-year-old Scot had hoped to  return against an American team led by golfing legend Tom Watson.

In the end the silent dignity of McGinley during the final stages of this election alongside the powerful tool of Twitter, where players made their feelings known on the subject of the candidates’ merits, eventually won the day.

Player power was very much in force. The strident way in which golf's new superstar McIlroy pledged his support to McGinley led to a result that has been roundly welcomed.

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Filed under:  Golf
soundoff (One Response)
  1. mattes11

    Reblogged this on Golf-Tipps.

    January 24, 2013 at 9:46 am | Reply

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