Diplomatic McGinley promises no favours
Paul McGinley and Pádraig Harrington during the Saturday afternoon foursomes in the 2006 Ryder Cup at The K Club. Photo: Fran Caffrey/  www.golffile.ie

Paul McGinley and Pádraig Harrington during the Saturday afternoon foursomes in the 2006 Ryder Cup at The K Club. Photo: Fran Caffrey/ www.golffile.ie

Show me some form and then we'll talk. That's the unsurprising tack that Ryder Cup skipper Paul McGinley is adopting when it comes to the chances of seeing Pádraig Harrington or Shane Lowry making his team next September.

As he begins his second year in the job today, the Dubliner has remained true to his word and continued to wear his hat of total neutrality when it comes to the make up of his side. 

During the course of conversations with him over the past 12 months, McGinley has consistently refused to say anything specific about any of his potential players, especially the Irish, beyond the usual platitudes.

And while he was pleased to see Harrington make a positive start to the season with a share of fifth in the Volvo Golf Champions last week, it didn't change the script.

As he told the Irish Independent's Karl MacGinty and others on Tuesday: 

"I will be making my decisions from a European Team perspective. It's all about the strength of my team and not from any other perspective," insisted the captain, confirming that he would leave friendship and his Irish nationality at the locker-room door.

"That's what I have to do as a Ryder Cup captain. My decisions will be evidence-based and if Padraig, Shane (Lowry) or anyone else is going to be a pick, they must show the evidence.

"Padraig had a great result last week. I was pleased to see how well he played and, of course, I'd love to see him in my team.

"I don't want to put pressure on him, so I'm not going to say anything about Padraig's game as he knows his game and what he's capable of better than anybody.

"He had a great week last week. I know he's motivated to make the team, and I know he's still real excited about his career, and I'd love to see him pushing on from his great start to the season.

"So keep pushing on, keep pushing on. Give me a reason to pick you."

Harrington knows better than anyone that he needs a huge season to put himself in the Ryder Cup frame. As far as qualifying automatically, he will need to win a major or several regular events and even to catch the eye of the captain he knows he must play well, especially in the big European Tour events this summer.

As yet he is not qualified for the Masters, the US Open or any of the big WGCs, which means he may have to win the Open again to revive his Ryder Cup hopes.

As he told the Irish Independent:

"I'd probably have more chance of winning a Major than making the Ryder Cup team this year ... though if I did win a Major, it'd put me right into that position."

After year in the job, McGinley has concerned himself mainly with the logistical matters for Gleneagles. Making any plans for the golf course itself is pointless until he knows the make up of his team. And while Henrik Stenson already looks certain to make it, so much can yet change that there is little he can do or say but maintain a watching brief until the end of July at least.

“It’s been a busy year but a really good year,” said the hero of 2002. “I think there has been a lot achieved in terms of preparation in a number of areas, both logistically away from the venue and in terms of arrangements at the hotel itself. So I’m very pleased this far.

“We also had the Year to Go celebrations last September which was a whirlwind of activity leading up to it, as well as during the three days themselves, so I think that gave me a very good idea of what the intensity is going to be like during the week itself.

“Now we are into the actual Ryder Cup year, the communication with the players is starting to grow a bit more but I will let that grow naturally over the next nine months.

"I am wary of having too much communication with them because they all know what they are doing – I’ll just let them evolve into their respective seasons which will hopefully bring success in Major Championships and such like.”

McGinley regards his first year in a positive light and does not tire of recalling how helpful his experiences under his own former captains has been to him.

As a player under Sam Torrance (2002), Bernhard Langer (2004) and Ian Woosnam (2006) and an assistant to Colin Montgomerie (2010) and José María Olazábal last time out, he's learned a lot.

“It has been a very enjoyable year so far – a steep learning curve in places I will admit – and I have put into practice a lot I have learned from previous captains because I’ve been very fortunate to play under and be involved with some great captains,” said McGinley. “I know it is said a lot, but it is the truth, I have benefitted from them all.”