sport

McGinley wary of backlash

Paul McGinley admitted he is wary of an American backlash at this year's Ryder Cup following the "Miracle at Medinah" in 2012.

The USA looked firm favourites to reclaim the trophy as they took a commanding 10-6 lead into the final day's single, but Europe mounted a stunning fightback to snatch a historic one-point victory.

McGinley served as a vice-captain to Jose-Maria Olazabal at Medinah, and he is aware that Tom Watson's team will be fired up to atone for that disappointment at Gleneagles in September.

Speaking after naming close friends Sam Torrance and Des Smyth as his first two assistants, the European skipper said: "All three of us are under no illusions how strong the American team is going to be.

"They're going to be very well led by Tom Watson and we know we're up against it.

"They're like a wounded animal after what happened at Medinah and they will be a highly-motivated team.

"But that's good, it's a real challenge to look forward to and it's what makes the Ryder Cup so special."

Both Torrance and Smyth are delighted to be part of McGinley's backroom staff, and they are encouraged by how the European team is shaping up for the contest.

The veterans both singled out exciting young Frenchman Victor Dubuisson as one to watch following his superb run to the final of the WGC-Accenture Match Play last month.

Bubbling

"The main guys that Paul would want in his team have all had a good start to the year, and it's all bubbling along nicely," said Torrance, the winning captain in 2002.

"We've got one rookie virtually guaranteed a place in Victor Dubuisson and he looks fantastic. He is a breath of fresh air and to have a rookie as strong as that is great news.

"You're going to have rookies and it's always difficult for them, so to have someone as good as him is great."

Smyth added: "I'm looking forward to meeting some of the younger players that I haven't really seen live yet. Victor Dubuisson looks a wonderful player and I know Rory McIlroy.

"The nucleus of the team looks good. A lot of the guys that won two years ago are going to be back, but you can see there's some young players showing and they can make it.

"So you're going to encourage them along and, as Paul rightly said, you want the team in good form for the week."

Both vice-captains also asserted that McGinley will prove an inspired choice as European captain.

Smyth said: "I'm delighted for Paul that he's captain - we needed an Irish captain as some stage, because all the other countries have had one!

"We've had a long-standing involvement with the Ryder Cup, and Paul is the right man for the moment. I'm delighted to be part of his support team.

"All captains have been different, and they all bring in their own people. Paul has asked us to be involved and I'm absolutely thrilled."

Torrance added: "Paul's been vice-captain and he's been a captain at the Seve Trophy. I think that's how you learn more about being a Ryder Cup captain than you do by playing in it.

"He knows all there is to know, we're just there to nudge him along.

"I played in eight Ryder Cups and it's the most nerve-wracking experience of my life. But I can honestly say as captain that I was the most relaxed that I've ever been at a golf tournament - probably because I didn't have to play.

"I think Paul will find that too. Most of his work is done already. There's all the build-up, and then it's over in the blink of an eye."