Paul McGinley fearful of split in Ryder Cup camp
Ryder Cup vice-captain, Paul McGinley fears the harmony that's long been a hallmark of the European Tour could be jeopardised should Colin Montgomerie's captain's picks be three of the four US-Tour Europeans.
With just four days until Monty names his full 12-man side, the Celtic Manor team leader is under enormous pressure to select the best three players he believes will help win back the Ryder Cup.
However, the Scot has come under fire from the likes of Sweden's Peter Hanson and Italy's Edoardo Molinari to remain true to his word and choose three players who've shown loyalty to the European Tour.
If so, that would mean not selecting the ‘FedEx Four' — Ireland's Padraig Harrington and the English trio of Paul Casey, Luke Donald and Justin Rose — who have shown little loyalty to Europe this year.
The four, who could have tried to secure automatic selection by contesting this week's Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles, but instead seem more concerned with the cash handout on offer in FedEx Cup opener in New Jersey.
Aside from his role as a Ryder Cup vice-captain, McGinley's also a member of the Tournament Players Committee, so he's used to hearing the complaints of the rank-and-file players.
But McGinley, after some time on the Gleneagles practice range, remarked on the undercurrent of opinion with regards to the European Team picks.
“You only have to stand on that range for half-an-hour and you get an ear-bashing for sure,” he said.
McGinley, along with fellow vice-captain, Thomas Bjorn, met with Monty over dinner at Gleneagles on Tuesday night and, along with Darren Clarke, the third vice-captain, will again sit down with Monty on Saturday, a day before he announces his decision.
“Colin is going to pick three strong players no matter what and yes, there is going to be players disappointed, but what can he do,” said McGinley.
“Players he thought would be in the team just have not qualified, so he's in this predicament
through no fault of his own. But having said that, no matter what three he picks, it is not going to weaken our European team, we are going to have a hell of a strong team — on paper, probably the strongest team we've ever had.
“If you up add our world rankings and divide that by 12, I think you will find that the world ranking average is probably the lowest that any team has ever produced.”
And with two Irish-born players already in the European line-up, in Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell, plus McGinley and Clarke as vice-captain's, McGinley admitted he cannot be seen to play favourites and push for Harrington as a pick.
“Just because he's Irish, and myself and Darren are Irish, it wouldn't be right for us to wear our Irish hat,” said McGinley.
“We have to act in the best interests of Monty picking the best 12 players to win the Ryder Cup back. We're in a great position in that we are going to have a very, very strong team and it's important to drive home that advantage and win.”
McGinley is returning to competition for a first occasion since ending tied-35th earlier this month in the Irish Open.
Joining McGinley in Scotland are five other Irishmen — Shane Lowry, Damien McGrane, Peter Lawrie, Gary Murphy, Simon Thorton — hoping to capture the 282,772 euro first prize.