Exclusive: Paul McGinley reflects on the Ryder Cup

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“I never lost trust in my players” - Paul McGinley reveals some of his Ryder Cup captaincy secrets to George Oldham

What would you say was the key to your Ryder Cup success?

Paul McGinley: I was just dealt the best hand. I had 12 great golfers, many coming into their best form. Tom had a good team too, but he lost two of his very best players and had two more who came good just too late for selection.

A lot of nonsense has been talked about how great I was and how Tom lost the plot, but he was just really unlucky.

Some players have callled you ‘the best captain ever’. What was your key management policy? 

PM: That’s easy – keeping the team on message. From the images I had up in the team room to the team talks, there was a simple focus on continuity; what the past captains and vice- captains had learnt from shared experience, and remember, the core of this team were already Ryder Cup winners.

Of course, you also had home advantage, a fact which I believe you brought in Sir Alex Ferguson to emphasise?

PM: No, that’s not quite right. I’m a West Ham supporter, but what I always admired about Alex Ferguson’s United teams was the self-belief that Sir Alex had instilled in them, particularly at home. 

So Alex talked not about home advantage but about dealing with the expectation of a home crowd.
my message to the team on the final day was to go out there and give yourselves a memory you can savour for the rest of your life I suppose then the emphasis would be about mutual trust? Certainly Ferguson instilled that in his teams.

PM: Exactly. I, for one, never lost trust. I didn’t worry at all about the pairing of Lee and Jamie despite their losing on the first morning,

I knew they would come good. It was the same with Rory and Sergio; they were great together and I knew they would deliver.

I understand that your level of trust extended to asking selected members to deliver team talks? 

PM: Certainly. Extending ownership is simple man-management. I asked Jose Maria Olazabal first because he had been an inspiring Ryder Cup captain.

Then I asked Poults, for obvious reasons, and finally I asked Lee on the Sunday morning because I wanted a change of emphasis from playing for the team to playing for oneself. 

I wanted them quite simply to have a focused selfish ambition to get in the record books, and who better than Lee, our highest points scorer, to deliver that message?

Which was better, being captain or sinking the winning putt at the Belfry?
PM: There is no comparison; ask any football manager who has played internationally and they will tell you nothing beats playing. 

These are memories for ever. And this was my message to the team on the final day – just go out there and give yourselves a memory you can savour for the rest of your life.

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