McGinley on Clarke and Westwood's "bottle"

Paul McGinley speaks at Oak Hill on the eve of the 95th PGA Championship. Picture: Eoin Clarke www.golffile.ieRyder Cup skipper Paul McGinley vowed to bury the hatchet with Darren Clarke and then hit back at the critics wh say that Lee Westwood is a choker who will never win a major.

The Irish pair fell out during a torrid captaincy campaign with Clarke accused of back-tracking on a promise not to stand as a rival.

The two have been drawn together for the first two rounds of the US PGA at Oak Hill alongside US skipper Tom Watson.

But McGinley is determined to make peace with Clarke, insisting: “I knew I’d be playing with Watson and Darren was drawn with us. That’s no problem. We’ll deal with it and move on. That’s fine. I want to leave all that behind me. The bottom line is the guy is there.

“Darren could be part of the Ryder Cup team next year and I’m certainly not going to burn any bridges or fall out with him.

“It’s a question of being professional about it and I will be and so will he and we’ll move on.

“I saw him in registration, we shook hands and we’ll see each other on the tee tomorrow.”

Clarke caused even more friction with McGinley when he withdrew from the captaincy race but then threw his weight behind Colin Montgomerie as the only European with the stature to take on eight-time major winner Watson.

The players rejected the idea and McGinley must now treat Clarke as a potential team member.

Clarke was the leading Irishman at the Open in Muirfield and McGinley has no doubt that the Dungannon man could battle for a place in the side alongside superstar Rory McIlroy.

He said: “He played very well in The Open, extremely well and he had a chance of winning it, really, going into the last round.”

As for the struggles of Padraig Harrington and Rory McIlroy, McGinley added: “It’s all about going out and getting some results on the board and getting a bit of confidence.

“We all need confidence and I don’t care what you say and no matter if you are Padraig Harrington or Rory McIlroy - confidence is the golden ticket.

“Rory’s lacking it at the moment but this game as it has its ups and its downs.  All I say is, ride the storm!  Ride the storm and move on.”

As for England’s Lee Westwood, whose credentials a major winner are being question following yet another reverse in the Open at Muirfield recently, McGinley was unwavering in his support.

“From what I know about Lee and being in Ryder Cup teams with him and competing against him, I can honestly say it makes me laugh when I see the headlines saying Lee Westwood doesn’t have the bottle and all that.

“Of all the guys in professional golf, he is right up there at the very, very top in having the most bottle. There is no question of him not having the fight for the battle. He has proved that many, many times, with the number of wins he has had around the world and his performances in Ryder Cup.

“In the team room, you get to see a guy. You see a guy naked in the team room and you can sense where a guy is at and I can assure you that Lee Westwood has never, ever shown any weakness in that regard.

“Lee Westwood is a hard man, he is reminiscent of Tom Watson. Hard, but fair.”