By Damian Dolan.
It may still be more than six months away, but with Paul McGinley naming two of his vice-captains last week for the 2014 Ryder Cup at Gleneagles on 26-28 September, the countdown is most definitely on to the biannual contest between Europe and the USA.
Fourteen months after he was appointed to the role of captain, McGinley unveiled Sam Torrence and fellow Irishman Des Smyth as two of his right hand men for what will be the 40th Ryder Cup. He will name a further two vice-captains in due course.
Both have Ryder Cup pedigree. Smyth was a vice-captain under Ian Woosnam in the thumping 18½-9½ win at the K Club in 2006, while Torrance captained Europe to victory at the Belfry in 2002, 17 years after holing the winning putt at the same venue.
Not that McGinley, 47, is short of Ryder Cup pedigree himself – far from it. Ironically, in 2002 it was McGinley that holed the winning putt on the 18th Hole to beat Jim Furyk, and the Irishman has been something of a lucky charm for Europe ever since. Indeed, in five tournaments, he has yet to end up on the losing side.
He also starred as a player in 2004 and 2006, before serving as vice-captain to Colin Montgomerie in 2010 and to José María Olazábal last time out in 2012, when Europe overturned a four-point deficit in Medinah going into the singles to clinch a historic 14½-13½ win. Omitted in 2010, Europe lost.
“I’ve been very fortunate and all of those have been positive, in terms of we’ve won all five, and I’ve learnt a lot from each one and a lot from all the different captains I’ve played under and worked alongside,” said McGinley.
For more see this week’s edition of the Irish World