Rory McIlroy backs Paul McGinley over Colin Montgomerie for Ryder Cup
The emergence of Colin Montgomerie as a candidate for the Ryder Cup captaincy has Abu Dhabi in a spin ahead of tonight's selection meeting. It could turn out to be just that. Spin. The people who really matter in this great contest, the players, are falling over themselves to endorse the alternative, Paul McGinley.
This could even turn out to be the first appointment decided on Twitter. World No 1 Rory McIlroy has been filing daily character references in favour of McGinley. Ian Poulter, the man who did so much to haul Europe back into the contest at Medinah, was an early advocate of the Irishman. Luke Donald added his voice yesterday. "I hope Paul McGinley gets his chance, he's been an amazing vice-captain and deserves an opportunity."
McIlroy took time at his Nike unveiling to extoll the virtues of McGinley. "I do strongly believe in captaincy being a one-hit deal. I feel everyone deserving should get their chance. I played under Paul at the Seve Trophy in 2009 and he did an unbelievable job. Under any captain I played he's been the best. He brought so much to the team room.
"I don't feel like Monty has anything to gain by this. Because if we go to Gleneagles and lose, he's already a winning Ryder Cup captain. I'm fully behind Paul and he should get the job. It's the small details. He doesn't leave any stone unturned. I just had a great experience playing under him. He's been a vice-captain in the two Ryder Cups I've played in and he's brought a lot to the table, a lot of ideas. He would make a really good captain."
Wow. If Monty comes back from a testimonial as grand as that delivered by the most significant voice on planet golf it will rival his team's recovery at Celtic Manor in 2010. It would appear that much of the background noise has been emanating from Sky, which employs Montgomerie as a pundit at major championships. While there is no harm in Sky trumpeting its property, it will not hold sway in the committee room, where 10 votes, good and true, will decide the matter tonight.
The tournament committee comprises 15 individuals. Three, Robert Karlsson, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Joakim Haeggman are absent and cannot vote. Montgomerie and McGinley are discounted, leaving chairman Thomas Björn and the remaining nine; Felipe Aguilar, Paul Casey, Darren Clarke, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, David Howell, Raphaël Jacquelin, Peter Lawrie, Francesco Molinari and Henrik Stenson to deliberate.
Of course Montgomerie would accept the invitation should it come his way, but, with Darren Clarke beating a late retreat in order to concentrate on his game, McGinley remains the short-odds favourite.
"Obviously, it would be a dream come true if I could be seen to be captain at home in Scotland," Montgomerie said. "It would be a great honour. It seemed to be between Darren and Paul and now my name seems to be mentioned an awful lot, so we will see."
Montgomerie and Clarke contested the Volvo Champions last week in South Africa, where the two discussed the demands of the Ryder Cup and balancing that with playing commitments.
"I can fully understand where Darren is coming from, especially given the exemptions he still has into the majors. You want to use them when you can still play," Montgomerie said. "Because we're close friends he knows it took a year and a half out of my career. If you come back after a year and a half out you might not be able to use those exemptions to the same potential.
"I didn't think it would affect my golf the way it did. I've told him that. I was looking at leaderboards for other names and not my own. I was hoping that some were doing well as opposed to concentrating on my own game. And practice went out of the window. There's no time. It's a full-time commitment if you want to do it properly."
McGinley has neither the record nor the profile to match Montgomerie. What he does have is the goodwill of influential figures and a canny record in team competitions. As well as holing the winning putt at the Belfry 11 years ago, McGinley has never lost in the three Ryder Cups he contested as a player, or the two in which he stood as vice-captain. He has also successfully captained the Britain and Ireland team in the Seve Trophy.
There is another detail that commends him. When all others have been beating this drum or that, McGinley has kept his own counsel. Expect his discretion to be rewarded in Abu Dhabi tonight.
Bernard Gallacher: "He has done the job already and did it well but there are others who should now get the chance"
Jose Maria Olazabal: "If I was him I wouldn't do it again, but Monty is his own man."
Paul Lawrie: "He's had his go, there are plenty of good people available to be captain."
Ian Woosnam: "In my opinion, it is a one-only deal."
Luke Donald: "I hope McGinley gets his chance, he's been an amazing vice-captain and deserves it."
Ian Poulter: "It would be fantastic to have Paul McGinley as the 2014 captain."
Who gets to vote?
Thomas Björn, Felipe Aguilar, Paul Casey, Darren Clarke, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, David Howell, Raphaël Jacquelin, Peter Lawrie, Francesco Molinari and Henrik Stenson.