Dublin: Europe’s Ryder Cup skipper Paul McGinley on Thursday named close friends Sam Torrance and Des Smyth as his initial vice-captains for September’s showdown against Tom Watson’s USA team at Gleneagles.
McGinley chose the Irish Government buildings in Dublin to make the announcement given he is guest-of-honour later on Thursday at the annual Irish Golf Writers dinner at nearby Portmarnock Golf Club.
However, the Irish Prime Minister, Enda Kenny, who was expected to join McGinley in the Irish capital, apologised for his absence having rushed to Brussels to attend an urgent European Union meeting to deal with the crisis in the Crimea.
Torrance, 60, was the victorious 2002 European Ryder Cup captain where McGinley made his debut in sensational manner by holing the winning putt at The Belfry in England.
And McGinley has again repaid the Scot, on top of appointing him late last year to captain the Great Britain and Ireland Seve Trophy side in Versailles.
“These two men have been a sounding board for me both personally and professionally and they have proved time and time again with their ability and their passion and their judgement that they are ideal for the role of vice-captain of the European Team,” said McGinley.
“As everyone knows I have had a very close relationship with Sam and we bonded very much in 2002, and it culminated for him following a very successful career on the golf course with his captaincy at The Belfry.
“That ended all very well for the both of us but it was behind the scenes that he left a big impression with me as a member of his team.
“Tactically, he made so many right calls. He understood the players and he understood what the Ryder Cup was all about, and his ability to motivate the players had very much a lasting impression on me.
“When I was chosen as European Team captain in Abu Dhabi early last year Sam was on the first names that came to mind as a vice captain.”
McGinley revealed he has known the now 61-year-old Smyth since he was 17 years, and with Smyth having been a European vice-captain in the victorious 2006 European Team at the K. Club in Ireland.
“If anybody has been a mentor to me on the professional circuit it’s been Des,” said McGinley.
“In many ways he was a very natural choice for me. He’s obviously had a very successful career himself as a player and also as a vice-captain to Ian Woosnam in 2006, and where I found him to be very inspirational, astute, voice of reason but with great clarity of thoughts.
“All these traits can be found in Des so for me he was also a natural choice.”
McGinley indicated he will announce before September 2 at least two more vice-captains and that will depend on who qualifies automatically for the European Team.
Those in line include Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez, Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn and the possibility also of 2012 victorious European Team leader Jose Maria Olazabal of Spain.
“It’s quite clear a lot of potential further vice-captains could more than likely qualify for the team,” said McGinley.
“A lot of them would still like to make the team so I just don’t want to distract them by talking about Ryder Cup and so they can focus on making the side.”
Watson has already announced two of his vice-captains in 71-year-old Raymond Floyd and 63-year-old Andy North.
The 40th Ryder Cup will be held at Gleneagles in Scotland over the last weekend in September.