He has the players’ support
We’ll never know how much difference it made that Rory McIlroy, Luke Donald and Ian Poulter all backed McGinley, unprompted, via Twitter ahead of the crucial meeting – but if there was a feeling that Paul McGinley was not the best man for the job in the minds of at least some of the 12-strong committee in Abu Dhabi then these very public declarations of support must have counted for something.
Add in Justin Rose and Graeme McDowell, who offered their support to McGinley when questioned (which is different than posting a tweet of your own volition) and you have the likely spine of our Gleneagles team.
“I just think he’ll do the simple things right,” said McIlroy. “He’ll think of everything, he’s very meticulous. He’ll be great.”
It would have a been a staggering decision if the committee had decided they knew better.
“I knew I had the support of the players,” said McGinley. “I felt like I had a strong hand.” Quite.
He has captaincy experience
McGinley has captained GB&I to success in both of the last two Seve Trophy matches (2009 and 2011). On both occasions he has led his team with distinction, and just about every player who performed under his command speaks well of his leadership style and acumen.
That bodes well for Europe’s chances next year in Scotland.
He speaks well and commands respect
It wouldn’t have mattered who was chosen to lead Europe – Tom Watson will command more respect and set the agenda for the Ryder Cup next year. It would have been futile to try to compete on this basis.
But while he may not be a legend of the game or boast anything like Watson’s playing pedigree (who does?) McGinley speaks well enough and is intelligent enough to hold his own over the next 21 months or so until Gleneagles.
He won’t say or do anything foolish, unlike one or two recent captains, and you can rest assured the European team will be thoroughly ready in every sense.
“McGinley won’t say or do anything foolish, unlike one or two recent European captains”
He has winning Ryder Cup experience
You would be forgiven for thinking that McGinley had barely played the game before to hear him being damned as a lightweight in the build-up to the decision being made. Yet here is a man who has holed the winning putt (at the Belfry in 2002) and also been a part of two other winning teams (Oakland Hills in 2004 and the K Club two years later). As a vice-captain, he has been involved with the last two successful teams. Add in his Seve Trophy experiences and you have a formidable winning record to draw on.
“I feel like I’ve had a really good apprenticehip with the two Seve Trophies and I can’t wait to get into the role of being the captain,” he said.
“I always went to another level when I played in team golf, there was an X-factor there, it made my heart beat a little bit faster,” he said.
He breaks the cliques (hopefully)
Many thought the first Irishman to lead Europe in the Ryder Cup would be Darren Clarke or perhaps Padraig Harrington. That’s not the way it has worked out.
There was a sense ahead of the announcement that the European Tour was being controlled by a couple of small but powerful cliques. Whether because of the players using Twitter to lend their support to McGinley or some other reason, if there was a feeling in the room that there was a better candidate then nothing eventually came of it.
It feels like McGinley ought to have got the job once his only credible rival, Darren Clarke, eventually decided he would rather try to play in one more match before concentrating on the captaincy. That’s the way it has worked out.
He will be a captain more representative of the rank and file than, say, Colin Montgomerie and Sir Nick Faldo were. And that can only be a good thing.