Paul McGinley 'thrilled' with Team Europe Ryder Cup captaincy appointment
Paul McGinley was understandably “thrilled” to be selected to lead Europe in their defence of The Ryder Cup at Gleneagles in Scotland next year.
The 46-year-old Dubliner, who becomes Ireland's first Captain in the event, takes over from José María Olazábal against an American side that will have golfing great Tom Watson back in charge at the age of 65.
McGinley holed the ten-foot winning putt on his debut at The Belfry in 2002 and was also part of the victorious sides in 2004 and 2006 before becoming an assistant to Colin Montgomerie three years ago and then Olazába at Medinah - both wins as well, of course.
McGinley said: "It's a week that I'm really looking forward to."
"I'm obviously very pleased to be in this situation. This is a position that I'm really thrilled to be in, and it's also a very humbling experience. I can't wait to get into the role of being the Captain.
"I'm relishing the thought of taking on one of my great heroes, Tom Watson.
"He's not only a wonderful person abut a great ambassador for the game of golf.
"I've never had an opportunity to go up against him in a playing sense.
"To go up against him in a captaincy sense will be a real thrill for me."
He had been in the frame for the job ever since being made Britain and Ireland captain against Continental Europe in the Seve Trophy in 2009. Whether hitting the shots or not, he was never on the losing side there either.
Despite the credentials, he faced competition for the captaincy with Tournament Committee Chairman Thomas Björn revealing five players were considered for the role.
“It was our job to discuss everybody that's been thrown around, and we discussed them all thoroughly. But this committee is 100 per cent behind this captain and that was really obvious very early in the meeting. Our players on Tour wanted us to make this decision, and we listened to our players and that's who we represent.
“We are all thrilled that we have Paul as a captain. I think that as a captain, he will bring the Tour even more together. He is one of us. There has never been a distance to Paul. He's a guy you can talk to. He's got great opinions and he's been fantastic in The Ryder Cup.”
George O’Grady, Chief Executive of The European Tour, said: “I think it's a wonderful achievement for Paul, which reflects his great service to The European Tour, his outstanding leadership in the Seve Trophy, Vivendi Trophy; and was carried by unanimous decision of the players' committee, which I think is a testament to the democracy of the process. Superb chairmanship of our chairman, Thomas Björn. Congratulations, Paul.”
McGinley will bring years of studying the art of captaincy to the position.
"Personally, I love the tactical side of it, the motivational side and the team element of it - and I love being in the team room," he said in August.
"The team meetings always give me a great buzz as a player.
"I don't want to give too much away, but I do watch a lot of things you wouldn't even know about, including press conferences.
"I'm intrigued with it, I have to say. I'm intrigued with how Ryder Cups have been won and lost over the years.
"I've asked a lot of questions of a lot of people and got a lot of information, not just from our side. I've always enjoyed having a beer with the American players or captain afterwards.
"I've done that on a few occasions and asked them their strategy for the week and why did they make certain decisions."
McIlroy, who was present at the announcement along with Padraig Harrington, Shane Lowry and Peter Lawrie, predictably welcomed the appointment.
He wrote on Twitter: "Common sense prevailed in the end.... Paul McGinley 2014 European Ryder Cup captain!!! Couldn't be happier for him... Roll on Gleneagles."
Tom Watson was among the first to offer his congratulations: “I congratulate Paul McGinley upon his selection as the next European Ryder Cup Captain and anticipate that his passion and love of the event will transfer to being an outstanding leader of his team in 2014 at Gleneagles. Paul has been connected to five winning European Ryder Cup Teams and is an outstanding representative of European golf. I look forward to sharing the stage with him as we make our journey to Scotland."
Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond also sent his support, saying: "I'm sure the whole of Scotland will join me in welcoming Paul McGinley and congratulating him on his appointment as captain of the European team for the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.
"Paul is a model professional and has always been held in extremely high regard by the Scottish golfing public and he can be sure the whole country will be behind him and his team come September 2014.
"Of course, he already has a place in Ryder Cup history thanks to his winning putt at The Belfry in 2002 and we are all hoping he adds another incredible chapter to that history when the Ryder Cup visits the Home of Golf in less than two years' time."
Ted Bishop, President of the PGA of America, said: "The PGA of America congratulates Paul McGinley as Europe's next Ryder Cup Captain. I will never forget the scene at The Belfry in 2002 when Paul holed a putt on the 18th hole to halve Jim Furyk which won the Ryder Cup for Europe and his subsequent celebratory dive into the neighboring pond. Images of an emotional Paul with the Irish flag wrapped around his body is something I will always remember. We join our partners and friends across the Atlantic in preparing for what should be one of the greatest chapters in Ryder Cup history."