ABU DHABI (AFP) –
Paul McGinley became the first Irishman to be named European Ryder Cup captain when the announcement was made for the 2014 match-up here on Tuesday.
The 46-year-old, a three-time Ryder Cup winner as a player who holed the winning putt in the 2002 edition, was seen as the hot favourite to get the nod to skipper the defending champions.
McGinley, who was World No.1 Rory McIlroy‘s preferred choice for the role, replaces Jose Maria Olazabal and will pit his wits against US captain, legend Tom Watson, at Gleneagles in Scotland between September 26-28, 2014.
Watson tweeted his congratulations to McGinley.
“Congrats to Paul McGinley on your R/C Captaincy. Looking forward to our future competition. You’re a class act.”
McIlroy too tweeted his delight at the appointment.
“Common sense prevailed in the end…. Paul McGinley 2014 European Ryder Cup captain!!! Couldn’t be happier for him… Roll on Gleneagles.”
McGinley’s appointment was announced after an hour-long meeting of the Tournament Players Committee.
“I am absolutely thrilled and delighted to have this honour,” said McGinley, a four-time winner on the European Tour.
“To be leading this European Team at a time when the European Tour is arguably at its strongest in terms of depth, will be a great honour and its is very humbling occasion to be in this position.”
McGinley was the unanimous choice.
Thomas Bjorn, the European Tour’s Chairman of Tournament Players Committee (TPC) Chairman, revealed five names were discussed in the meeting.
“It never got to voting. It was a unanimous decision.
“Five names were discussed – Paul Lawrie, Colin Montgomerie, Sandy Lyle and Miguel Angel Jimenez apart from Paul. The committee is 100 percent behind McGinley. Our players wanted this decision. It’s never an easy choice to make, we needed to choose one and we chose the right one.”
McGinley impressed in the role of vice-captain in Europe’s last two Ryder Cup wins. He has also been captain of two winning Great Britain and Ireland Teams in the Vivendi Seve Trophy.
McGinley admitted he had heeded some advice from his wife.
“A lot was going on but I decided to stay quiet. My wife and my friends told me that was the dignified thing to do,” he said.
“But I had such a strong hand when the players were endorsing me. And for Rory, Luke (Donald), Ian (Poulter) and Justin (Rose) to say all that they said, was very humbling.”
On his tactical battle with Watson, McGinley said: “I am relishing the thought of taking on one of my greatest golfing heroes, Tom Watson. Taking him on in Scotland would be such a pleasure.”
When asked what he brought to the table, McGinley said: “I have got so many things. I have played under the who is who of European Tour captaincy. I will take a little bit from each of them. And I have some of my ideas too.
“I do not have the record in Major championships, but I have great passion for team sports. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I used to play Gaelic football before I started playing golf.”Published 16 Jan 2013, 09:14 IST