GLENEAGLES: Paul McGinley was the toast of European golf Sunday after he captained his side to a thumping five-point victory over the United States to retain the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.
There had been some eyebrows raised when McGinley, with a career total four tour wins to his credit, was chosen at the start of 2013 to go up against golfing legend Tom Watson in the captains’ stakes.
But from start to finish, and especially during Ryder Cup week in Gleneagles, the 47-year-old Irishman has clearly gotten the better of the eight-time major champion he idolised growing up.
“I can’t say enough about our captain,” Europe’s top golfer Rory McIlroy said.
“Paul McGinley has been absolutely immense this week. He has left no stone unturned. He has just been fantastic.
“From everything that he has done, everything sort of tied in from speeches that he’s made to the people that he has got in to talk to us, the imagery in our team room.
“Everything has been tied in, and he has given this week a lot of thought over the past two years. I’m just so glad that it worked out for him.”
McGinley had one clear advantage over the 65-year-old Watson in that he enjoyed much more recent experience of the Ryder Cup, having played three times as a player in 2002, 2004 and 2006 and twice as a vice-captain in 2010 and 2012.
In contrast, Watson last played in the Ryder Cup in 1989 and he was last captain in 1993, when he was more successful, marshalling the Americans to their last win on European soil.
McGinley was part of Jose Maria Olazabal’s backroom staff at Medinah two years ago and the Spaniard believes that the continuity that came from asking McGinley to be skipper was invauable.
“I told you, everybody asked me that question when he was named captain of the Ryder Cup and I knew he was going to do a wonderful job,” Olazabal said.
“He’s a great man and he has the respect of the players. He has everything down to the smallest detail and that’s the way he was. He thought about everything and he was spot on.”
Those sentiments were echoed by Sam Torrance, who was captain at The Belfry in 2002 when McGinley sunk the winning putt and who was one of five vice-captains chosen by the Irishman for Gleneagles.
“Just incredible, what a team, what a captain. He has been exceptional, Paul. He really has been exceptional, never left a stone unturned,” he said.
“He has had a plan for two years and he has built on that plan and it’s come to fruition.”
Other players pointed to McGinley’s embrace of modern psychological techniques and his attention to detail from the moment he was chosen as cpatain.
Spain’s Sergio Garcia, playing in his seventh Ryder Cup — each time with a different captain — said that McGinley has been a revelation.
“I think that he kind of probably brought a little bit more modern kind of captaincy to it,” he said.
“You know, really, really taking care of every single detail, knowing that what we had before was good and it worked and just trying to improve it a little bit without changing it.
“So I think he did a great job. He did an amazing job. He’s been on me for some months now.
“He told me how much I meant for him to be on his Ryder Cup team, and that’s probably one of the things that helped me play so well this year.”