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Ex-United boss Ferguson keen to help inspire Team Europe

By Robert Jones

He wanted to keep it a secret, but Paul McGinley had to admit that Sir Alex Ferguson would address his European team yesterday evening ahead of the 40th Ryder Cup.

"He's a guy that I played with in the JP McManus pro-am about 15 years ago and that I've seen now and again over that time, and when I became captain I asked him," McGinley said of the former Manchester United manager.

"Of course he was more than willing to help. But the one thing he asked me to do was keep it really quiet. Walking around (the course) is not keeping it quiet, is it? We wanted a bit of a surprise for the players but I guess it's not a surprise."

West Ham fan McGinley joked that Ferguson would not be giving any of his team the famous "hairdryer" treatment, with the Hammers coincidentally making the trip to Old Trafford on Saturday.

"Although I'm a West Ham fan, I've always loved the way his teams played and there's a number of things that he's dealing with that he was particularly good at that I think he'll be a particularly strong fit," McGinley added.

"He's asked me a lot of questions and I know he's very keen and looking forward to tonight. He's a big fan of golf, as we know. He knows Rory (McIlroy) very well and Rory is a big Man Utd fan. Not everybody in the room is a Man Utd fan, so that should be a bit fun.

"This is not about him being a headmaster and coming in and preaching. He's very aware of that. This is relaxed. This is a conversation. There will be questions coming back at him.

"They all love football and a chance to spend a bit of time with one of the greats in soccer doesn't come around very often. In my dealings with him, he's been absolutely fantastic and I know he'll be great with the players."

US captain Tom Watson was somewhat coy when asked if he had any special guests lined up to speak to his team, adding: "I've already given them some talks. And will be continuing. I have some people coming. We have some other special guests."

The last time the Ryder Cup was staged in Europe at Celtic Manor in 2010, sporting greats Gareth Edwards and Seve Ballesteros – via video link from Spain – spoke to the home side, while fighter pilot Major Dan Rooney addressed the US team.

Meanwhile, World number one McIlroy has yet to decide whether to use a new driver at this week's Ryder Cup.

McIlroy has won four times this season, including the Open Championship, WGC-Bridgestone Invitational and US PGA Championship in consecutive appearances, but is contemplating making a change at Gleneagles.

The 25-year-old used a Nike Vapor driver in practice yesterday and drove the green on the short par-four 14th to set up an eagle two.

It was reported that McIlroy said the club gave him an extra eight yards carry in the air and also allowed him to move the ball better in flight.

Phil Mickelson famously changed from Titleist to Callaway clubs shortly before the 2004 Ryder Cup at Oakland Hills, lost twice on the opening day and won just one point from four matches.

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