King-maker Paul McGinley is emerging as a serious candidate for the 2014 Ryder Cup captaincy.
The Dubliner, 42, is believed to have played a vital role in convincing Colin Montgomerie to take the skipper’s armband at Celtic Manor next year.
And with Jose Maria Olazabal apparently set to take over at Medinah near Chicago in 2012, McGinley is being looked upon as a serious candidate for the captain's job at Gleneagles in five years’ time.
McGinley said: “Of course, 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.
“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.”
McGinley didn’t say that yesterday or even last week but during the 2007 BMW Championship at Wentworth, when he was announced as one of Nick Faldo’s vice-captains for the 2008 matches at Valhalla.
In fact, McGinley predicted that Montgomerie would take over the reins as Ryder Cup captain as early as September 2004, just a week after Europe hammered the United States by nine points in Detroit.
At the time he said: “Monty, Faldo and Woosie are going to the next three captains. What order will they come in, I don’t know.
“I’d love to be captain some day. I think everyone who has played in the Ryder Cup would love to be captain. It’s a wonderful honour.
“Who knows, down the road? But I’m a long way from that yet...you never know, some day.”
Of course, Woosnam led the team to victory at the K Club in 2006 with Faldo coming out on the wrong end of a 16.5 - 11.5 scoreline in Kentucky just five months ago.
And McGinley’s decision to jump ship as vice-captain “to concentrate on making the side” now looks like one of the most inspired decisions of his career so far.
Though he claims he is not a political animal, the Dubliner has been an outspoken and highly active member of the Tournament Players’ Committee since 2004.
His misgivings about Faldo’s captaincy came home to roost last September, when the Englishman changed a winning formula and lost heavily.
McGinley says that respect is the most important thing a captain can have and Faldo walked all over almost a decade of Ryder Cup success between 1997 and 2006, when European won four out of five matches, by reinventing the wheel.
The match winning hero at the Belfry in 2002, McGinley has his own ideas about what went wrong in America and would be respected by his peers if he were to get the job in 2014.
He said: “That 10-year window in history was our most successful period ever and the template for that success was pushed aside. By Nick doing it his own way, a lot of players probably didn't realise what was going on. There's an art to doing the solid, consistent, obvious things.”
Respect from your peers is vital in a Ryder Cup captain and there now appears to be a push for a skipper on the right side of 50.
Sam Torrance was 49 in 2002, Bernhard Langer just 47 in 2004 and Ian Woosnam was 48 in 2006.
Montgomerie will be 47 in September 2010, still a familiar face to young players pushing for a place on the side, such as Rory McIlroy and Oliver Fisher.
Olazabal will be just 46 when the matches are played in Chicago in 2012 while McGinley would be in his prime at 47 in 2014.
Padraig Harrington hinted at the end of last year that McGinley’s time as Ryder Cup captain has yet to come but added that his fellow Dubliner still has unfinished business as a player.
Harrington said: "As a player he is too young and he should be concentrating on making the team. Paul has had a very successful year that has been overshadowed by a really tremendous year for Irish golf and he will continue to build on that.
"I can't see him being captain in Wales. There might be an opportunity there but he is going to be concentrating on making the team."
With just four European Tour wins so far, his last at the 2005 Volvo Masters, McGinley will be keen to pick up a few more trophies before 2014 - starting in this week’s Qatar Masters.