Paul McGinley insists he won’t let his ice-cool relationship with Darren Clarke harden his heart and cloud his judgement when he sits down to help pick the 2016 Ryder Cup captain.
Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell want fellow Ulsterman Clarke — the odds on favourite with the bookies — to lead the side at Hazeltine in Minnesota in 2016.
McDowell has even cheekily called on McGinley to bury the hatchet with Clarke after their already cool relationship descended to permafrost levels during their fraught battle for the job at Gleneagles [Clarke wrote to McGinley promising support, then ran for the job himself only to withdraw due to lack of support before calling for a big name to oppose Tom Watson at a time when Colin Montgomerie was mentioned for a second term]. It all added up to a feeling of betrayal and how popular really is with members of the current team — McIlroy, McDowell and stablemate Lee Westwood apart — remains to be seen.
On the face of it, he could be the only viable candidate with Thomas Bjorn and Pádraig Harrington determined to keep playing and Miguel Angel Jimenez regarded as a man with major communication problems for a US audience.
McGInley insists that he will not be swayed by the cooling of his friendship with Clarke when he sits down with immediate past captains Jose Maria Olazabal and Colin Montgomerie to help choose the new leader.
“Absolutely no problem whatsoever,” McGinley said at a Monday morning press conference. “I'm going to be very professional in my input.
“I was very much validated by the players. I'm going to get a large opinion from a lot of players and a lot of people before I put my opinion forward as to what it will be.
“I think in the next few months at some stage we will get together and discuss it.
“But I'm going to gather a lot of information just like I was very much pushed over the line by the players, I want to get the opinion of the players.
“I think we're very fortunate in Europe, a little bit like the Liverpool soccer team, right up to the boot room, and I think a lot of us have benefitted hugely from being vice captains.
“Darren has been a vice captain along with many other guys, as well, too. So we will see where that all evolves and I certainly won't have no issues whatsoever with that.
“I'll make a professional decision based on the views of people that I respect.”
The new captain will almost certainly be named next January under a new system designed to avoid the politics that marred the 2014 captaincy race.
Instead of a vote among the member of the Players Committee, the new captain will be chosen by the three immediate past captains, a nominee of the Committee (Bjorn could still run and as chairman, he'd have to step aside and allow another committee man to vote) and the Chief Executive, George O'Grady.
McIlroy's support was key to McGinley getting the job and the world No 1 is now calling on Clarke to get the nod for 2016.
McIlroy said: “I’d love to see Clarkey be the captain in 2016. He's the perfect captain for the United States. They love him, love his character, his demeanour.
“He has a really good relationship with the fans in the States so I think it would be a great decision but the European Tour and the Committee if they were to select Darren for the next Ryder Cup captain.”
McDowell added: “I totally agree. I think Darren and Paul should put their differences aside.
“Darren needs to spend some time talking to Paul about the way he conducted himself this week. Paul commanded a huge amount of respect in the team room this week.
“He’s the best captain I have ever played under by far — no disrespect to any other captains. He just said the right things, did the right things and executed the European Ryder Cup template and just made it better.
“It was just a great week and obviously capped off by winning.”
After three Ryder Cup wins as a player, two as a vice-captain and one as captain, McGinley has no plans to return as a captain or a vice-captain in the future.
“I don't think I'd be vice captain to anybody going forward to be honest,” he said. “It's unlikely that I would ever do that again. I think I've gone from a player to a vice captain to a captain. I've been six out of six. I've been very lucky that I've had six great experiences.
“I'm very happy to help going forward in an unofficial capacity but there's only certain people having to do vice captaincy again.”
McDowell believes that McGinley was so successful that he has changed the blueprint for future captains.
“I think he kind of rocks the system from the point of view, he probably didn’t have credentials deserving of Ryder Cup captain,” McDowell said.
“He was picked on fact that he could being more to the table, up for it, intelligent, schooled and had sharpened his blade at Seve Trophies and vice-captaincy stuff.
“He breaks the mould, he’s not a nine-time Order of Merit winner or a Major winner. But you have to get it, to manage 12 egos, understand what they need.
"Europe should follow the template that you don’t have to be a great player to be a great captain.”
McGinley left no stone unturned and even had a fish tank with blue and yellow fish — the European Team colours — in the team room in the hotel.
He was inundated with text messages of congratulations but the one that meant the most came from Luke Donald, who backed him for the job and then failed to get a wildcard.
“My phone is buzzing as we speak with text messages,” McGinley said. “It's been great. It's been funny, I just happened to have my phone at one stage during the night sitting with Sergio, and a text message came in from Luke Donald and that meant a lot.”
Asked how tough the job had been, he added: “I had to make some tough calls, really tough calls. Like I just said, Luke Donald there, that still eats away at me.
“A guy like that who was so supportive of me to be captain and has been a great Ryder Cup player over the years, that was a tough call.
“Ian Poulter not playing in the second afternoon when all along I had thought that he was going to play and at the 11th hour, I decided to use Martin Kaymer and break up that dynamic of Poulter and Rose which has been so successful.”
As for the Americans, McGinley paid tribute his hero Tom Watson and backed the US side to come back with all guns blazing in 2016.
“One thing the Americans are, they are very, very proud of their country,” he said. “If you saw some of the American players like I saw backstage at the closing ceremony as well, there was tears in their eyes. This was tough. This really hurts.
“They will galvanise themselves. They are very proud people. They will come back and they will galvanise themselves and they will come back very, very strong in two years' time and we have to be ready for that. That's what makes it great. Don't underestimate America.”