Paul McGinley

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McGinley to kick start Ryder Cup qualification at Celtic Manor

Paul McGinley will lead from the front on Thursday morning when he strikes the opening tee shot in the Ryder Cup qualification process at the ISPS Handa Wales Open held at The Celtic Manor Resort, host venue of the historic 2010 matches.

This week heralds the beginning of a 12 month process that will see five players selected from the World Points List, four from the European Points List, and three picks to complete the 12 man line-up of those that will represent Europe at Gleneagles next September.

With qualification underway, it marks the latest chapter in McGinley’s tenure as Ryder Cup Captain, and he is clearly revelling in the responsibility, and the workload.

“Every day has been busy one way or another, but a good busy,” admitted McGinley. “It's been an exciting time, not just in my career but in my life, as well, for me and my family. It's been great, and there are a number of milestones along the way on the journey that a captain takes, and the start of Ryder Cup points is another one of those milestones.

“Generally the work that's required has really taken me by surprise, how big The Ryder Cup is behind the scenes. As a player, you turn up and all you're concerned about is whether your clothes fit or not; or in my case, normally whether I can get my trousers turned up.

“But now I'm seeing it from behind the scenes, from the business point of view and I can see now exactly the work that goes into it.  It's been a real eye‑opener for me and a big learning curve, not just regarding The Ryder Cup, but regarding business, as well, too.

“I think it's the first time a captain has hit the first tee shot in the qualification process, and I'm playing with the winner of the Tour School (John Parry) and winner of The Challenge Tour (Espen Kofstad), and I think it's a nice European story.”

McGinley is first out in a field packed with players who will have aspirations on making his side in 12 months’ time, and he sees this week as a great opportunity for the players to make their mark, and get their qualification off to an ideal start.

Francesco Molinari will be one man looking to represent Europe at the highest level, having played at Celtic Manor in 2010, as well as having secured the crucial half point in his team’s victory last year at Medinah. The Italian is in the field alongside his captain of last September, José María Olazábal, as well as a host of other top talent.

“The quality of golf on The European Tour now is phenomenal,” explained McGinley. “There's a lot of young players now who are ready to step up to Ryder Cup standard.

“This is a great opportunity for them, not just this week and last week, but going forward for the next nine or 12 months.  I'm not afraid of having rookies on the team, and if those guys step up to the plate and play really well, I'll be delighted to welcome them to the team.

“All I'm concerned about at the end of the day is having the 12 strongest players to represent Europe at this time next year.”

Gleneagles will be the sixth Ryder Cup that McGinley has been a part of, three as a player and two as a vice captain, and he has never lost. As a result he feels he has learned a lot that should stand him in good stead when it comes to his own captaincy.

He has played and worked under the likes of Bernhard Langer, Colin Montgomerie, the aforementioned Olazábal, Sam Torrance and Ian Woosnam in his time, and he feels each experience will help shape how he handles his newfound role.

“I've been so fortunate to have had a back seat in the last two Ryder Cups as vice captain to Colin Montgomerie, and to obviously José Maria, and they were huge learning curves for me on both occasions.

“Both captains were wonderful to work for and they kept all the vice captains very included in all the decision making, and it was really good to be involved. And certainly when we won on both occasions by a point, it was right down to the wire, the decisions we made, we knew if we got it wrong it would be costly because there was such a small line between the two teams.

“So, yeah, I’ve been fortunate, very fortunate, to have those kind of experiences behind me.”

McGinley tees off from the first hole in the opening round of the ISPS Handa Wales Open at 7.25am alongside Kofstad and Parry. Follow the action from all four rounds on europeantour.com.Paul McGinley will lead from the front on Thursday morning when he strikes the opening tee shot in the Ryder Cup qualification process at the ISPS Handa Wales Open held at The Celtic Manor Resort, host venue of the historic 2010 matches.