Paul McGinley was on Tuesday chosen as Europe’s Ryder Cup captain for next year, ending a messy campaign that included a late challenge from former captain Colin Montgomerie.
The European Tour’s tournament committee in Abu Dhabi made the unanimous decision in favor of McGinley after a nearly three-hour meeting. The smiling 46-year-old Irishman was then presented at a news conference as the successor to Jose Maria Olazabal, who led Europe to a stunning comeback victory in October last year.
“To lead the cream of the crop in the Ryder Cup is going to be a huge honor,” McGinley said. “To be quite honest it is a very humbling experience to be sitting in this seat. It is a week I’m looking forward to. It’s a whole new experience for me, the chance to be a captain.”
The decision ended a hectic few days in which Darren Clarke pulled out of the running for the position, preferring to concentrate on his own game. His decision prompted Montgomerie to launch his late campaign for the job which, in turn, sparked a show of support for McGinley on Monday from some of Europe’s leading players.
The loudest of that support came from top-ranked Rory McIlroy, who spoke forcefully on Monday and Tuesday. He also came out against Montgomerie, arguing he would be less motivated since he had captained the winning 2010 Ryder Cup team.
“Common sense prevailed in the end … Paul McGinley 2014 European Ryder Cup captain!!! Couldn’t be happier for him ... Roll on Gleneagles,” McIlroy tweeted.
McIlroy later turned up at the news conference to welcome the new captain — whom he played under in the Seve Trophy in 2009 — declaring him to be “probably the best captain I’ve ever played under.”
“He makes you feel so good about yourself,” McIlroy said. “He put me at No. 1. He’s like: ‘I want you lead out the team.’ He builds you up and makes you feel confident. He is very good at that.”
McGinley acknowledged he does not have the playing record of some previous captains, but he does bring an uncanny ability to win as part of a team. He has played in three victorious Ryder Cup-winning teams — in 2002, 2004 and 2006 — and was vice captain for the victories in 2010 and last year at Medinah.
Europe will defend the trophy at Gleneagles, Scotland.
The US picked Tom Watson last month to captain their team at Gleneagles. Watson will be 65 when the event starts, making him by far the oldest man to fill the role and the first repeat captain for the US since 1987. However, he is also the last American to lead the team to victory on the road in 1993 and he knows how to win in the blustery Scottish weather.
Watson congratulated McGinley on his appointment.
“[I] anticipate that his passion and love of the event will transfer to being an outstanding leader of his team in 2014 at Gleneagles,” Watson said. “Paul ... is an outstanding representative of European golf. I look forward to sharing the stage with him as we make our journey to Scotland.”