Paul McGinley surprised few when he named Des Smyth and Sam Torrance as the first of his Ryder Cup vice-captains. But it's Miguel Angel Jiménez who will be the first to enjoy Smyth's experience when the Drogheda legend serves as his vice-captain for the inaugural EurAsia Cup from March 27-29.
Jiménez will act as playing captain of the ten-man European team, meaning Smyth’s experience as a two-time Ryder Cup player (1979 and 1981) and Vice-Captain (2006) will be vital as the Irishman assumes a leading role behind the scenes in Malaysia.
“I am delighted to welcome Des to the team for the EurAsia Cup presented by DRB–HICOM,” said Jiménez. “Des is a man with a lot of experience and someone I know I can trust so he will be a great Vice-Captain.
“Paul McGinley and I have spoken a lot about the EurAsia Cup team and how important an event it is in terms of The Ryder Cup. A lot of the guys on my team could be playing for Paul in September so the EurAsia Cup is a great opportunity for Des to reacquaint himself with the experienced players and integrate with the younger guys.”
Smyth is relishing the opportunity to be part of the inaugural EurAsia Cup with Jiménez and the nine other members of Team Europe - Thomas Björn, Jamie Donaldson, Victor Dubuisson, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño, Stephen Gallacher, Pablo Larrazábal, Joost Luiten, Graeme McDowell and Thorbjørn Olesen.
He said: “I am very much looking forward to working with Miguel and the European players at the EurAsia Cup. I already know a lot of the players such as Graeme, Thomas, Gonzalo and Stephen and I am looking forward to getting to know the rest of the guys.
“I feel I can bring a lot of experience to the role of Vice-Captain and I will be there to support Miguel and hopefully offer some good advice when required. I am thrilled to have been asked to be a Vice-Captain for both The Ryder Cup and the EurAsia Cup and I’m looking forward to getting started in Malaysia in a couple of weeks.”
As for the Ryder Cup, Smyth will resume a role he first assumed in 1993 when McGinley was a European Tour rookie.
“Des took me under his wing when I was a young rookie on Tour and he gave me tremendous advice which was not only valuable then but has continued to ring true for me throughout my professional career," McGinley said at the Taoiseach's offices in Dublin.
"His views and ideas about The Ryder Cup particularly have consistently proved to be spot on and I really enjoyed working with him as a Vice Captain in 2006 when I was a player.
"As well as being good friends, [Des and Sam] are two guys that I greatly admire both personally and professionally and I know they will be vital assets to me in Scotland in September.
“They were the first two people I had in mind for this role when I was appointed captain and, since then, I have talked to a lot of the experienced European players about having them as part of the team and, to a man, they have been very supportive of the idea.
“Sam is a man who has probably had the most influence on me in terms of playing team golf in my career. Being my first captain in The Ryder Cup in 2002, I learned a huge amount from him and have continued to do so over the years. Since those early days, our relationship has grown to see us become firm friends and, living not far apart, we see a lot of each other socially as well.”
Torrance said: “Everyone knows how much The Ryder Cup has meant to me over my career so I am absolutely delighted to be involved once again. Paul was a special part of my team at The Belfry in 2002 and he knows I will do everything possible to help him and the team at Gleneagles in September.”
Smyth captured eight titles on The European Tour including the 2001 Madeira Island Open which, at the time, made him the oldest winner in Tour history at the age of 48 years and 34 days, a record which stood for 11 years until it was eventually overtaken by Miguel Angel Jiménez’s victory in the 2012 Hong Kong Open.
Both Ryder Cup teams now have two Vice Captains in place, United States captain Tom Watson having selected Ray Floyd last month in addition to Andy North who was named last year. However, Captain McGinley revealed that he will be making no further announcements in that respect until after Tuesday September 2 when the full European Team for The 2014 Ryder Cup is known.