McGinley had control of European Tour tee times
ST. ANDREWS, Scotland (AP) — Eight years ago as the Ryder Cup qualifying was ending, 10 of the top 20 players in the U.S. standings were either in the same group or in a group with captain Tom Lehman. It looked as if it was rigged, though the PGA Tour promised it was done by computer and merely a coincidence.
“The computer doesn’t know the difference between the Ryder Cup and a coffee cup,” top rules official Slugger White said then.
That isn’t the case in Europe.
Because the European Tour is so vested in the Ryder Cup, captain Paul McGinley was given control over the tee times for the opening rounds at tournaments. Graeme McDowell and Victor Dubuisson playing together in the French Open was no accident.
McGinley wanted them for foursomes at Gleneagles, and they wound up winning both their matches.
“I was able to get Victor and Graeme on the same page,” he said. “I controlled the draws on the European Tour during the summer, and every time Graeme came to play in Europe, he played with Victor. They didn’t know what I was planning, but I had planned that they would be partners.”
Why put together a Frenchman who barely speaks and a Northern Irishman who never stops talking?
McGinley saw a need for McDowell to be the leader of a team match. McDowell suggested as much himself in explaining why the dynamic of him and good friend Rory McIlroy had changed as McIlroy emerged as the best in the world.
“It’s very, very difficult to be that senior partner,” McGinley said.
He mentioned the role Seve Ballesteros played in a match he won with David Gilford, and he believes that Nicolas Colsaerts was able to thrive at Medinah because he had Lee Westwood on his side. He had hoped for Ian Poulter to be that senior partner with Stephen Gallacher, but Gallacher was added to the team so late that he couldn’t prepare Poulter for the task.
McDowell was the last European to qualify, though McGinley had told McDowell after the PGA Championship he would be on the team one way or another.
“I knew that his wife was about to have the baby,” McGinley said. “I wanted him to enjoy that experience and not feel the pressure if just missed out on the team.”
Maybe that’s what McIlroy meant when he said that the European captain “left no stone unturned.”
It should be noted that McDowell and Dubuisson played together in one other European Tour-sanctioned event this year, and McGinley had nothing to do with it. That was the Match Play Championship, where Dubuisson beat him on the 18th hole in Arizona to reach the semifinals.
MATCH PLAY SPONSOR: The Match Play Championship already had a new home and a new date. Now it has a new sponsor, even though it’s not really new.
Cadillac doubled up on its World Golf Championship involvement by announcing Tuesday that it will be the title sponsor of the Match Play, which is leaving Arizona after eight years and moving to San Francisco.
Instead of closing out the West Coast Swing at the end of February, the Cadillac Match Play will be April 29 to May 3 at Harding Park.
Cadillac already is an umbrella sponsor of the WGCs. It becomes the first company to take on two of these events. Its other WGC is the Cadillac Championship, which is second event on the Florida swing and played at Doral.
The agreement was for one year.
The format is changing to round-robin matches the first three days to reach a field of 16 for the weekend.
CLARKE ON TV: Darren Clarke made a good impression in his cameo role as an analyst on NBC Sports during the Ryder Cup.
His next job might be captain.
Clarke always has seemed to be a natural fit for the United States, and the next Ryder Cup will be in 2016 at Hazeltine outside Minneapolis.
“We have a system over here where you have to be asked,” Clarke said in the NBC booth about his prospects. “I would love to. The selection process obvious has been very good. I would love to do it. But I’ve got to be asked.”
Miguel Angel Jimenez also is said to be under consideration.
BLUE AND GOLD: European captain Paul McGinley wanted everything in the team room to be Ryder Cup colors blue and gold — the carpet, the wall paper, the fish.
Yes, the fish.
One of the more peculiar additions was a large fish tank occupied by blue and gold fish. McGinley still doesn’t know what they were.
“Chose the colors, not breed,” he said. “As long as they were fish and they swam. It was the colors I was more interested in. Yeah, it was great. It was just a small touch.”
There were larger touches. McGinley had a large photo of John Jacobs, the first captain of the European side in 1979, another photo of the 1947 team that traveled by boat to get to the Ryder Cup at Portland Golf Club when the matches resumed after World War II. And of course, there was a photo of Seve Ballesteros and Jose Maria Olazabal, the most prolific partnership in Ryder Cup history.
“It was my idea for the fish tank and it worked great,” McGinley said Monday. “They are still there swimming away, very happy.”
HALL OF FAME: The World Golf Hall of Fame induction ceremony is leaving Florida for the home of golf. But just for one year.
The ceremony for 2015 will be on the Monday of the British Open at the University of St. Andrews. The 2017 ceremony will return to the World Golf Village in St. Augustine, Florida, during The Players Championship, and it will be at Pebble Beach in 2019 during the U.S. Open.
One reason for the change is to get more Hall of Famers to attend the ceremony. The lack of attendance had been embarrassing in recent years.
Still to be determined is who is inducted. Among the changes, the Hall of Fame decided to take the vote away from golf writers and use a panel that consists of a majority of golf administrators.
DIVOTS: Jack Nicklaus was awarded honorary life membership of the European Tour on Sunday at the Ryder Cup. Nicklaus was presented with a silver membership card by European Tour chief executive George O’Grady. ... Jim Furyk’s loss to Sergio Garcia in singles was his 20th in the Ryder Cup, an American record. Phil Mickelson, who went 2-1 last week, has 19 losses. Tiger Woods, who has missed two Ryder Cups since his first team in 1997, has 17 losses. ... Bubba Watson became the first American to lead the Ryder Cup standings and fail to earn a point in the matches.
STAT OF THE WEEK: Jim Furyk earned $5,987,395 this year without winning on the PGA Tour. That’s about $250,000 more than Jack Nicklaus made in his career.
FINAL WORD: “They are very proud people. They will galvanize themselves and they will come back very, very strong in two years’ time. And we have to be ready for that. Don’t underestimate America.” — European captain Paul McGinley.