McGinley bushwhacked by Faldo

From Brian Keogh at Wentworth

Paul McGinley has revealed how he was ‘bushwhacked’ by Nick Faldo into accepting a Ryder Cup assistant’s role.

But the Dubliner, 40, insists he’s far from washed up as a player and is still determined to do let his clubs do the talking at Valhalla next year.

Far from a snub on his ability as a player, Faldo’s invitation is a massive compliment to McGinley’s natural fighting qualities.

He even announced his decision to call up the Irishman in the style of a ringside announcer at a prize-fight, declaring: “He’s a three-time Ryder Cup winner and he holed an unbelievable, magnificent putt at the Belfry. In the green corner, Paul McGinley!”

The Dubliner emerged on cue from the back of the stage in Wentworth’s media centre.

And he revealed how six-time Major winner Faldo went as far as dragging him behind a bush to beg him to take the role alongside Spanish matador Jose Maria Olazabal.

Recalling how it all happened, McGinley beamed: “It was at Pebble Beach during the AT&T Pro-Am in February that Nick pulled me aside.

"I was coming out from one of the lodges and making my way out to dinner, walking on my own and he pulled me behind a bush.

“We chatted for about half-an-hour and I said I need time to think about it, and I did.

“I took two to three weeks to decide and he rang me three times to see if I had made a decision and I hadn't, and I finally did after due consideration.”

With three Ryder Cup victories under his belt, McGinley was reluctant to take on a role that might take the edge off his desire to make the team as a player.

But after talks with his father and some other players, the Dubliner has decided to make his cake and eat it too.

And he has not ruled out the possibility of becoming the first Irishman to captain the European Ryder Cup side in the future - going one better than Des Smyth's assistant's role in 2006.

McGinley said: “I would love to be involved as a Ryder Cup captain. It is a tremendous honour and we have never had an Irish captain. But it is not my time yet.

“I am still in the middle of my career and I want to give that 100 percent. Whatever evolves after that, evolves. The better I play as a player, the more chance I have of being a captain.

“My time is down the road and I will certainly be stepping aside in the next number of years. I will be playing my golf and letting Ollie and Monty be the next two captains. ”

As for his possible role at Valhalla, McGinley explained: “Obviously the big consideration was that I have played the last three and I want to play the next and I don't want to be viewed or certainly view myself as an ex-player.

“I feel as though I still have a lot to give in the game and that was the big consideration.”

McGinley has won just four tournaments since he turned professional as a 25-year old in 1991

He still feels he is a late bloomer with a long-career ahead of him and he’s determined to play at least one more Ryder Cup and then opt for the captaincy itself.

He said: "It's a tremendous honour as everyone knows and Faldo is one of the greatest brains ever to play the game of golf.

“He is a very deep thinker about the game and for him to consider me for a role as one of his vice-captains is, of course, a great honour.

"The one thing on my mind was that I don't want to be seen, particularly by myself, as a player who is past it.”

Faldo’s decision to call on McGinley and Olazabal, 41, is a shrewd one as the Englishman feels slightly out of touch with the grassroots of the tour.

Portrayed as an iceman throughout his career, Faldo knows that he needs passion players like McGinley and Olazabal by his side.

He needs people who know the ins and outs of the European and PGA Tours and livewire McGinley certainly fits the bill as a member of the European Tour Player’s Committee.

The fact that Faldo hasn’t played in a Ryder Cup since 1997 also leaves a gaping hole in his CV that the Dubliner can fill.

Explaining the importance of his three Ryder Cup wins in a row, McGinley added: “Nick said he hadn't played in a Ryder Cup for 10 years and I have been involved in the last three.

“We've won all three and two by a record margin. He said you can only tell so much from the outside looking in about what went right and he really wants to get to the nuts and bolts of what did go right and I've been involved.”

McGinley first met Faldo as when he travelled with Padraig Harrington as an amateur for a training weekend at the Team Faldo Academy in Welwyn Garden City.

But he points out that the famously aloof Faldo is far less intimidating a figure now that he has swapped his clubs for the announcer’s microphone.

He said: “Without a set of golf clubs, he is not that intimidating. When you see Tiger in pair of jeans and a tee shirt he doesn't look as intimidating as he does in his Sunday red.

“There is a lot that goes with what you do in a sporting situation and I think a lot of way Nick has been accepted is that he hasn't got a set of golf clubs and a visor on his head.

“I never really competed against him. I played against him in the Dunhill Cup once when I was only starting my career so I wouldn't have considered myself a competitor of his. He was in a different league to me.

“Like most people. I wouldn't say I am a big friend of Nick's. Certainly, I am acquainted with him and I have known him since I came on tour. He has always known me and liked me.”