Paul McGinley named European Ryder Cup captain for 2014 clash in Scotland
Players had backed Irishman instead of 2010 captain Colin Montgomerie
Rory McIlroy, Ian Poulter and Luke Donald all threw weight behind McGinley
McGinley was vice captain to Jose Maria Olazabal during Europe's win in 2012
He had the firm backing of world No. 1 Rory McIlroy as well as Europe’s Ryder Cup talisman Ian Poulter, and on Tuesday night it was made official – Paul McGinley will captain the continent against the United States in 2014.
Despite a late bid from successful 2010 captain Colin Montgomerie, who was keen to do the job on home soil in Scotland, player power won out as the Irishman was confirmed at a press conference in Abu Dhabi.
The 46-year-old played in three winning Ryder Cup teams and holed the clinching putt for Europe during the 2002 clash at The Belfry, in England.
McGinley was trumpeted for the role by McIlroy several times on Monday, and also by English duo Poulter – one of Europe’s heroes who inspired their dramatic comeback in Chicago last year – and former world No.1 Luke Donald.
McIlroy said Montgomerie – an eight-time European Order of Merit winner – had “nothing to gain” by reprising his role and McGinley told reporters he was proud to be the first ever Irish Ryder Cup captain.
He said: “I’m obviously absolutely thrilled and delighted to lead the team with the strongest, in-depth European Tour in history; to be leading the cream of the crop is a huge honor.
“I knew I had the strong backing of the players. I thought the more I would say the more my chances would lessen. I watched with interest in the last few weeks as my chances went up and down like a yo-yo.
“To be honest it is quite a humbling experience to be sitting in this seat. It’s a week I’m really looking forward to. I’ve been there many times as a player and as a vice captain but I’m looking forward to being a captain.”
Europe has won five of the last six installments of the biannual team competition, including a stunning comeback victory at the last meeting in Chicago last year, when McGinley was vice captain to Jose Maria Olazabal.
Despite taking a big 10-6 lead into the final day singles matches, the U.S were stunned by a European comeback as the visitors won 14½ to 13½ in what has become known as ‘the Miracle of Medinah.’
McIlroy was one of the European stars, alongside Poulter, and McGinley said the backing he got from the world’s best player was a big factor in him getting the job.
“Its humbling when the new star of world golf comes out in your favor,” he said. “That means a lot to me.
“There’s a couple of good things that have happened for me in terms of getting this role. One of those is Rory and Graeme McDowell (2010 U.S. Open champion) played in the 2009 Seve Trophy, which was my first captaincy.
“I had the opportunity of captaining him, and Rory and Graeme were huge for me that week. I was fortunate I had that situation where Rory played underneath me and that’s why he spoke with such authority on the subject.”
After their painful defeat in Chicago the U.S. turned to one of the game’s greatest ever players, Tom Watson, who was the last man to captain a winning United States team on European soil back in 1993.
McGinley said he was honored to be squaring up against the eight-time major winner.
He added: “I’m relishing the thought of taking on one of my great heroes in Tom Watson. Not only is he a wonderful person, he’s a great ambassador for the game of golf and has been for a long time. It’s going to be a real thrill for me.”
Players’ Committee chairman Thomas Bjorn said they had listened to the voices of their members and that it became very clear early on in the meeting that McGinley was their preferred choice.
European Tour chief exec George O’Grady added: “It’s a wonderful achievement for Paul. It was a unanimous decision of the players’ committee and was testimony to the democracy of the process.”