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McIlroy backing McGinley for Ryder Cup vice-captain role

Rory McIlroy was so impressed observing Paul McGinley handle the role of Vivendi Trophy-winning captain last year that he feels the Dubliner must be chosen as one of Europe's Ryder Cup vice-captains.

Captain Colin Montgomerie yesterday confirmed in Versailles that he will make known his backroom team on July 20.

Montgomerie has purposely chosen the Tuesday after next fortnight's British Open to give every potential vice-captain — including McGinley, Thomas Bjorn and Miguel Angel Jimenez — the chance still to qualify automatically for his team.

But should McGinley, who is ranked 76th on the European Ryder Cup points table, not improve his standing substantially at the Home of Golf, then McIlroy says Monty has to pick him as a vice-captain.

“Paul was just up for it at the Vivendi Trophy and he was such a great motivator,” said McIlroy yesterday after carding a three-under-par 68 in the first round of the French Open.

“He just seemed to have learnt so much playing under (Bernhard) Langer when Langer captained the 2004 Ryder Cup at Oakland Hills, because Paul was saying that Langer kept saying it was like ‘little Europe versus the big and mighty United States’.

“So it would be awesome if Monty was to pick Paul as a vice-captain. Paul knows all the guys and just gets on well with everyone.

“He's highly respected as a player and to have played in three straight winning Ryder Cup teams is going to be an enormous plus for Europe.

“But then, knowing Paul as well as I do, I know how much he still wants to play his way into the team but if that should not transpire then what a plus it will be for all of us to have him as one of Monty's vice-captains.”

Montgomerie indicated he will speak with all potential vice-captains while in Versailles, including Jose Maria Olazabal who, on Wednesday, ruled himself out of the position.

Dutchman Robert Jan Derksen heads the €3m French Open by three strokes after carding an eight-under par 63. McIlroy and Damien McGrane are the leading Irish with three under par scores.

“It was a solid opening round and I don't think I have shot in the 60s in an opening round for some time,” said McIlroy.

“So it was nice to shoot a 68 and that is something I can certainly build on, and I certainly gave myself plenty of chances.”

Michael Hoey posted a two under par 69 while Shane Lowry carded a 73 that was four strokes poorer than last year.

Other Irish scores were: Peter Lawrie 71, Simon Thornton 72, Gareth Maybin 74, Darren Clarke and Paul McGinley 75s.

Meanwhile, in a blow of organisers World No. 3 Lee Westwood has withdrawn from this month's Irish Open at Killarney.

Westwood confirmed after carding a first round one under par 70 that he will take a fortnight's break from the game at the close of the British Open at St. Andrews.

Elsewhere, it took less than 10 seconds for a judging panel yesterday in France to vote Graeme McDowell European Tour 'Player of the Month' for June in recognition of his stunning U.S. Open triumph two weeks ago.

Belfast Telegraph

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