McGimpsey predicts pain for Trip

By Brian Keogh

Walker Cup legend Garth McGimpsey believes the United States has boobed by opting for big-hitting "loser" Trip Kuehne.

The Texan, 35, will be making his third Walker Cup appearance at Royal County Down next weekend.

But McGimpsey is convinced that the American will taste Walker Cup defeat for the third time if he tries to overpower the punishing Newcastle track

A winner as a player and skipper, McGimpsey said: "I remember Trip Kuehne whacking it through the 15th on the last day at Ganton and leaving himself with no shot.

"And here he is again, back in the American team at the age of 35. I was glad to see him picked. If he starts firing at pins at Newcastle he won't get round.

"Nigel Edwards, Lloyd Saltman and Rhys Davies are all returning from last year and, unlike Kuehne, their experience is of having winning records or of playing on winning teams."

Kuehne was on the American side that featured Tiger Woods but lost to a Padraig Harrington inspired GB&I at Royal Portcawl in 1995.

He was also in the US team that lost at Ganton four years ago, when Ulsterman McGimpsey skippered Great Britain and Ireland to a hat-trick of victories.

And while he's worried about the pressure heaped on Rory McIlroy and the absence of veteran Gary Wolstenholme, McGimpsey believes that Great Britain and Ireland has enough strength in the heart of the team to win the trophy for the fifth time in seven attempts.

A veteran of three Walker Cups, the Bangor native failed in his bid to lead GB&I to a fourth successive win in Chicago two years ago.

But as a member of host venue Royal County Down, he knows what it takes to conqueror the course that is the polar opposite to American target golf with blind shots galore and wicked bunkering.

And he hopes that GB&I skipper Colin Dalgleish was paying attention to his tips when they played a practice round together.

He explained: "Newcastle is a second-shot course and I hope I got it across to him that you have to play to the front of Newcastle's greens.

"If you start firing at pins and run through the back it is almost impossible to get up and down."

Rory McIlroy will be expected to lead from the front after grabbing global glory with his sensational performance in the Open at Carnoustie.

But McGimpsey doesn't want to the Walker Cup turned into the "McIlroy Show".

He said: "We want Rory to go out first, we want him to pull the crowds, we want him to give the Great Britain and Ireland team four points, but we don't want him to see the match as a glorious final exhibition before he turns pro.

"It is sometimes easy to forget that Rory is only just entitled to vote, particularly when you watched him outplay many a seasoned pro at this year's Open - but in some ways Rory is still a kid like any other who gets dazzled by fast cars and private jets.

"The size of the crowds that follow his matches around the links of Royal County Down will be surreal and the responsibility on Rory will be huge.

"However, the boy from Holywood is a mature enough golfer to be a great talisman and leader for the team. He might very well prove to be the difference between winning and losing."

McGimpsey controversially decided to leave a then 16 year old McIlroy out of the 2005 side that eventually lost in Chicago.

But unlike former Chairman of Selectors Peter McEvoy, he admits it was a massive mistake, McGimpsey still believes he was right to ignore the Hollywood hotshot's claim for a place.

He said: "In many ways Rory didn't deserve to be picked. He had asked me at Christmas what events he needed to play in to give himself a chance of making the team and so I gave him a list.

"But at that time in his life he became seduced by the offers to play in pro events and all but completely disregarded the list. As a result he just didn't provide us with the evidence to pick him."

McIlroy could prove to be the difference between the sides this weekend.

But McGimpsey is more worried about the absence of English veteran Wolstenholme, who played on six successive team from 1995 to 2005.

And he controversially believes that Ulsterman Jonny Caldwell was lucky to get his place.

He said: "Gary was good at getting up American noses and giving our young lads a focus. I suspect Monty's role in the Ryder Cup is not totally dissimilar.

"I thought Jonathan Caldwell was a little fortunate to get in. That said, Caldwell established a partnership with McIlroy in the European Team Championships that might well continue to be successful."