No room for European complacency
European Ryder Cup Captain Paul McGinley has described his team as looking like favourites for The 2014 Ryder Cup, but says there will be no room for complacency when the matches get under way later this year.
Speaking on Wednesday ahead of the US PGA Championship, McGinley was clearly very pleased with how qualification has gone with a number of those already looking assured of qualification, having won some of the game’s biggest Championships in recent months.
The form of Rory McIlroy will clearly please his captain, with the Northern Irishman fresh off wins at both the Open Championship and the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational en route to returning to the top of the Official World Golf Rankings.
In support of the three time Major winner have been the likes of Sergio Garcia and Martin Kaymer, who have had exemplary summers of their own so far in 2014 to solidify their place on the European roster.
Reasons to be cheerful then for McGinley, but he believes these latest matches will be no different to the previous two, and are set to be a close fought thing come September 26-28.
“The Europeans at the moment are playing great,” said McGinley, who was forced to withdraw this week at Valhalla due to a niggling shoulder injury. “We are having a great run of success, and obviously Rory was superb, as we all know, in The Open Championship. Martin has been too, with the Players Championship and the US Open, which has kind of opened the gates for a very strong summer so far for us.
“It looks good at the moment and we'll be favourites going into The Ryder Cup, which has not really happened much over its history, but that's a good position to be in.
“Having said that, I'm certainly under no illusions as to how strong America is going to be. They have been very unfortunate to lose the last two Ryder Cups, where Lady Luck and a lot of players showing a lot of fortitude at the right time have just edged us out in front to win by a point on each occasion.
“The margin between the two teams is very, very small. Obviously Tom is going to do a great job of captaining, I know that, and I'm under no illusions as to how big a task we have ahead of us. We certainly won't be getting ahead of ourselves and thinking it's a case of turning up and winning, far from it. It's a big task ahead and the players all know that.”
McGinley addressed the media shortly after his counterpart Tom Watson had announced that Steve Stricker would be the third and final member to join his back room staff as a vice captain.
Upon hearing the news the Irishman had nothing but praise for one of the more elder statesmen within the modern game. He also went on to outline that he would complete his own line-up of assistants using current European Tour players, to best complement Des Smyth and Sam Torrance, who have already been appointed.
“It's a very strong appointment from Tom,” said McGinley. “I know Steve very well, and not only has he been a great golfer, but he's been a great person as well. I think he will complement very much what Tom has got in terms of Ray Floyd and Andy North, with him already being a current player.
“That's something that I will be doing when it comes to picking my additional vice captains, by looking to appoint current players just as Tom has done.”
The European qualification period comes to an end at the close of the Italian Open on Sunday August 31, with three Captain’s Picks to follow shortly after.