SPEAKING exclusively to our sister publication bunkered, European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley has issued a battle cry for all Scottish golf fans attending the Ryder Cup, writes Craig Dennett.
The Irishman says his message to the fans is simple. He wants them to ‘make it as noisy and as passionate as possible. But within reason, of course.’
McGinley has been preparing for the match over the last 18 months and realises he has some ‘big shoes to fill’ when it comes to following in the footsteps of some of the competitions most iconic captains.
Sam Torrance, Bernhard Langer, Ian Woosnam, Colin Montgomerie and Jose Maria Olazabal have all led the team in style, and McGinley says he knows there’s pressure to emulate them.
He said: “There’s always pressure. But it’s a good kind of pressure, and, honestly, I’m delighted to have it. There’s been a sort of template for success in the Ryder Cup that has evolved behind the scenes in Europe over the years and I see my role as taking that template and enhancing it.
“I don’t see myself as a maverick, nor do I envisage radically changing anything that’s gone before. I just see myself as having to do the same as what’s gone before, but try and do it better.”
For McGinley, being named captain was made even more special when Tom Watson was appointed as his opposite number.
He added: “Tom Watson was my hero as a boy growing up. He was my all-time favourite golfer, and still is to this day. I was never good enough to go head-to-head with him down the stretch in a major championship but I’ll get that opportunity this year when we captain our sides.
“It’s a prospect that I’m absolutely relishing, too. It’s not something I’m fearing. I’m really looking forward to it. It’s a great opportunity for me to go up against a guy that I’ve always respected and held in the highest esteem.”
Like McGinley, Watson knows all too well how important the crowd will be at Gleneagles. Much revered in this country, Watson even joked that he hopes to lure the Scottish fans onto his side.
He laughed: “I’m going to try and get them on our side, for sure, but I’m under absolutely no illusions that the majority of the fans at Gleneagles will be supporting one team and one team only - and it won’t be ours.”
Having already captained the winning US Ryder Cup team in 1993, Watson knows what it takes to win, but he told bunkered, that the Ryder Cup is completely different in the present day.
Watson said: “The demands on your time are much greater, and there’s a lot more excitement from the press and the media. There’s no more excitement from the players, to be honest, it’s still as much it always was. But in terms of all of the peripheral stuff, there’s a lot more of that.”