ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Paul McGinley was chosen as Europe’s Ryder Cup captain for 2014, ending a chaotic campaign marked by a late challenge from former captain Colin Montgomerie.
McGinley, a 46-year-old Irishman, replaces Jose Maria Olazabal, whose team rallied to victory over the United States in October at Medinah, outside Chicago. Europe will defend the trophy at Gleneagles, Scotland.
“To lead the cream of the crop in the Ryder Cup is going to be a huge honor,” McGinley said at a news conference Tuesday. “To be quite honest, it is a very humbling experience to be sitting in this seat. It is a week I’m looking forward to. It’s a whole new experience for me, the chanced to be a captain.”
Top-ranked Rory McIlroy spoke forcefully Monday and Tuesday in favor of the new captain. He said Montgomerie would be less motivated because he captained the winning 2010 Ryder Cup team.
“Common sense prevailed in the end…. Paul McGinley 2014 European Ryder Cup captain!!! Couldn’t be happier for him… Roll on Gleneagles,” McIlroy tweeted.
McIlroy later appeared at the news conference to welcome the new captain.
“He makes you feel so good about yourself,” McIlroy said.
The European Tour’s tournament committee in Abu Dhabi made the unanimous decision after a nearly three-hour meeting. It also considered Montgomerie, Sandy Lyle, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Paul Lawrie.
Montgomerie had earlier said it would be a dream to captain the team in his home country of Scotland. He left without making a comment.
The decision ended a messy few days in which Darren Clarke pulled out of the consideration for the position, preferring to concentrate on his own game. His decision prompted Montgomerie to launch his late bid. That, in turn, brought a stream of support for McGinley on Monday.
“I read and followed every word that went down the last few weeks, I have to say, and watched with interest. Like a yo-yo, my chances seemed to go up and down and up and down,” McGinley said. “It’s also a situation I’m relishing and I can’t wait to get into the role of being the captain, working with the players, particularly the players that have shown such huge support for me obviously in the last few weeks.”
Thomas Bjorn, chairman of the players’ committee, said all the candidates were discussed thoroughly and the committee fully backed McGinley.
“I think that as a captain, he will bring the Tour even more together,” said Bjorn, who joined McGinley at the news conference. “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.”
Three-time major champion Padraig Harrington said McGinley was exceedingly popular among the players and well organized. Harrington, also from Ireland, called it a great day for Irish golf.
“He comes in with the most support of the players who will play under him,” Harrington said. “There was massive outpouring from the guys who will likely be on that team. It is a great position for him. That is no slight against Monty. He did a great job when he was Ryder Cup captain, but the guys think it’s time for someone else. Paul is the man.”
McGinley acknowledged he doesn’t have the playing record of some previous captains but felt he brings an uncanny ability to win as part of a team. He has been on three Ryder Cup-winning teams and was vice captain for Europe in 2010 and for the improbable comeback win last year at Medinah.
Europe will defend the trophy at Gleneagles, Scotland.
“What I did do in my career was I always performed extremely highly when I did play as part of a team. I don’t know why,” said McGinley, who credits growing up playing Gaelic football for instilling that mindset. “I wish I could have done the same as an individual. But I certainly went to another level when I played in team golf.”
The Americans last month picked Tom Watson to captain the U.S. team at Gleneagles. Watson will be 65 when the event starts, making him by far the oldest man to fill the role and the first repeat captain for the United States since 1987. But he’s also the last American to lead the team to victory on the road in 1993, and he knows how to win in the blustery Scottish weather.
Watson congratulated McGinley on his nomination.
“(I) anticipate that his passion and love of the event will transfer to being an outstanding leader of his team in 2014 at Gleneagles,” Watson said. “Paul has been connected to four 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.”
McGinley said he welcomed the chance to face Watson, someone he never competed against as a player.
“Not only is he a wonderful person, but he’s a great ambassador for the game of golf and has been for a long, long time,” McGinley said.
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