World No 1 Rory McIlroy has unequivocally called on the European Tour Players Committee to resist any temptation to hand Colin Montgomerie (or any ohter past captain) the Ryder Cup captaincy and again called for Ireland’s Paul McGinley to be handed the job of leading Europe’s defence at Gleneagles in 2014.
It’s the umpteenth time in the space of 10 weeks that Europe’s leading player has made it clear that he wants McGinley to be handed the captain’s armband. This time, in the wake of growing murmurs that his 2010 skipper might be considered for a second bite of the cherry, he went a step further this time.
While he did not name 2010 skipper Montgomerie in a Sunday afternoon tweet, McIlroy made his feelings crystal clear amid growing speculation that the veteran Scot will be McGinley’s main rival for the job when the matter comes up for discussion in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.
“Ryder Cup captaincy should be a one time thing,” McIlroy told his 1.46 million Twitter followers. “Everybody deserving gets their chance and moves on. Would love to play under Paul McGinley in ‘14.”
He’s not the only member of the victorious Medinah side that doesn’t want to see Montgomerie at Gleneagles unless he’s locked in a TV studio somewhere, preferably behind several inches of soundproof glass.
Scotland’s leading player, Paul Lawrie, was asked by a Twitter follower this week if he’d be in favour Montgomerie returning as captain. Lawrie’s reply? “No, I wouldn’t. He’s had his go. One time job for me.”
With Darren Clarke hinting strongly in Durban last week that he will stand aside (he claims he wants to concentrate on his playing career), the selection process for the 2014 skipper is becoming increasingly Machiavellian.
McGinley is believed to have the support of the majority of the side that won the trophy in such dramatic style at Medinah last September but it remains to be seen if he is regarded as the best man for the job by the other 12-members of the 15-man Tournament Players Committee who will debate the issue on Tuesday.
It’s been strongly suggested in some sections of the UK media that the captain’s role is grossly over-rated. We are being told that a trained monkey could become a successful captain if it learned a few speeches and his side got lucky on the greens. Of course, we weren’t hearing this when Europe headed to Celtic Manor on the back of a Nick Faldo’s disastrous captaincy in 2008.
It was crucial for the future financial wellbeing of the European Tour that Europe won back the trophy, we were told. It was vital to have a charismatic, Ryder Cup god lead the troops that time.
Roll on two years and we’re being told that Europe won the last two matches in spite of Montgomerie and José María Olazábal. Langer and Woosnam had the two strongest sides ever so Curious George could probably have done the captain’s job just as well there too.
Just when it appears that an Irishman (the awkward kind that carries an Irish passport and proudly plays for the tricolour) might land the job for the first time in the history of the competition, the selection process is now regarded as tainted and in need of reform.
The appointment of Tom Watson suddenly requires Europe to have a “massive presence” in the media centre to avoid any embarrassing comparisons with the great man. One assumes that these comparisons will be made by the press because as far as one can tell, no-one on the 2012 winning side has come close to suggesting that they have nothing but respect for McGinley.
Watson will respect McGinley. He’s certainly one of the few Americans I’ve met who actually knows him.
Is McGinley really regarded as such a non-entity by his peers on the Committee or the men who run the European Tour? Does it matter for naught that he’s been endorsed consistently by many of the leading players in the game, past and present, as a man more than worthy of his chance?
Is the European Tour really in such a bad place financially that Montgomerie, Sandy Lyle or another former captain such as Langer or Sam Torrance must be given the job?
Who knows what will happen behind closed doors but expecting Clarke to pledge his support to McGinley out of loyalty is laughable. After all it was Clarke who called for someone with a “huge presence” to stand opposite Watson, deliberately belittling his erstwhile friend.
One suspects that the moves to overlook McGinley in favour of Montgomerie have more to do with snobbery and succession planning than fears that the Dubliner is too small of stature - symbolically - to merit such a grand prize.
McIlroy’s call for McGinley and his opposition to Montgomerie is significant. Will it go unheeded?
Imagine if Tiger Woods had tweeted: “Ryder Cup captaincy should be a one time thing. Everybody deserving gets their chance and moves on. Would love to play under David Toms/LarryNelson in ‘14.”
If the media is denied another Montgomerie-fest, it should at least be thankful it will have the potentially explosive Woods-Watson dynamic as a fall back.