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Europe appoints McGinley captain for 2014 Ryder Cup

Associated Press

1/15/2013 4:59:20 PM

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates -- Paul McGinley was chosen Tuesday as Europe's Ryder Cup captain for 2014 and the first from Ireland, ending a messy campaign that included a late challenge from former captain Colin Montgomerie.

The European Tour's tournament committee in Abu Dhabi made the unanimous decision after a nearly three-hour meeting. It considered several names including Montgomerie, Sandy Lyle, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Paul Lawrie before settling on McGinley. A smiling 46-year-old Irishman was presented at a press conference alone. He replaces Jose Maria Olazabal, who led the team in a comeback victory in October.

"To lead the cream of the crop in the Ryder Cup is going to be a huge honour," McGinley said. "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."

Montgomerie, who had earlier said it would be a dream to captain the team in his home country of Scotland, left without making a comment.

The decision ended a chaotic 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 campaign for the job which, in turn, sparked a stream of support for McGinley on Monday from the continents stars.

"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," the soft-spoken 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 names were discussed thoroughly and that the committee was 100 per cent behind McGinley in the end.

"We made the right decision. Our players on Tour wanted us to make this decision, and we listened to our players and that's who we represent," said Bjorn, who joined McGinley at the news conference.

"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."

The loudest support for McGinley came from top-ranked Rory McIlroy, who spoke forcefully Monday and Tuesday in favour of the new captain. He also came out against Montgomerie, arguing he would be less motivated since he had 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 turned up at the press conference to welcome the new captain, whom he played under in the Seve trophy (in 2009) and said he was "probably the best captain I've ever played under."

"He makes you feel so good about yourself," McIlroy said. "He put me at No. 1. He's like 'I want you lead out the team'. He builds you up and makes you feel confident. He is very good at that."

Three-time major champion Padraig Harrington also welcomed the choice of McGinley, who he described as wildly popular among his fellow players and among the best organized. Harrington, who also hails from Ireland, called it a great day for Irish golf.

"It is great to see Paul take his turn. 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 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.

"I'm relishing the thought of taking on one of my great heroes, Tom Watson. I think he's, 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.