The news that Ryder Cup winner Francesco Molinari and Dubliner Peter Lawrie have been elected to the 15-man Tournament Players Committee could be good news for Paul McGinley’s chances of winning the 2014 Ryder Cup captaincy.
The pair replaces Barry Lane, who stepped down, and Richard Finch, who was required by rule to seek re-election this month.
While Spain’s Fernando Gonalez Castaño successfully gained re-election, the ousting of Darren Clarke’s stablemate Finch and the arrival of pro-McGinley man Molinari will be seen as another vote in favour of the McGinley camp.
Who gets Lawrie’s vote remains to be seen when the Committee sits down in the new year to choose the man to take on eight-time major winner, 63-year old Tom Watson, who was today named as the surprise American choice for the job at Gleneagles.
The changes in the Committee were revealed by Karl MacGinty in today’s Irish Independent, who writes that Lawrie believes the appointment of Watson could also prompt Europe to think outside the box and go for another surprise:
At present, McGinley and bookies’ favourite Darren Clarke are the two leading contenders to captain the team at Gleneagles, though the expected appointment of 63-year-old legend Tom Watson as US skipper for 2014 could prompt a change of tack in Europe, Lawrie suggests.
“As someone who has yet to learn the workings of the committee, I have an entirely open mind … but I might ask why is it only a two-horse race for the captaincy?” said the Dubliner.
“What is happening in America (with Watson) has really come out of the blue and maybe we’d need a name, a really big personality, to go up against a name.”
Speculation that successful 2010 captain Colin Montgomerie could be re-called is sure to mount in the days ahead.
But given that the majority of the European side from the Miracle at Medinah have come out in favour of having McGinley at Gleneagles and Clarke at Hazeltine in the US in 2016, the tide could be turning the Dubliner’s way.
As MacGinty points out today:
When questioned, only two of this year’s team nominated Clarke as their choice for the captaincy at Gleneagles – his ISM stablemate and good friend Lee Westwood, plus Spain’s Sergio Garcia. Three of the team declined to make their preference known.
Remarkably, Molinari is the only member of this year’s Ryder Cup team on the Tournament Committee, so his election is of no little significance in helping ensure their voice is heard.
Finch, also a member of the ISM stable, was thought likely to give Clarke his vote had he remained on the committee. David Howell will be the only ISM man left in the room when Clarke and McGinley, who manages his own affairs these days, excuse themselves from the captaincy debate at the Abu Dhabi Championship in January.
The 15-man committee now comprises: Thomas Bjorn (chairman), Felipe Aguilar, Paul Casey, Clarke, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castano, Joakim Haeggman, Howell, Rafael Jacquelin, Miguel Angel Jimenez, Lawrie, Robert Karlsson, McGinley, Molinari, Montgomerie and Henrik Stenson.
Lawrie, at Leopard Creek in South African for this week’s Alfred Dunhill Championship, sought election to the Tournament Committee “because after 10 years on Tour, I was curious to see how things work behind the scenes.”