McGinley enlists Torrance and Smyth
Paul McGinley has named two of his vice-captains for the 2014 Ryder Cup. He has chosen Sam Torrance and Des Smyth, two experienced figures in European golf. Torrance was captain when McGinley made his Ryder Cup debut in 2002. And Smyth will reprise the vice-captain role he performed at the 2006 Ryder Cup.
McGinley said: “I am delighted to officially unveil Des and Sam as two of my vice-captains for The Ryder Cup. As well as being good friends, they 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. To a man, they have been very supportive of the idea.”
Sam grew up in Largs, Scotland, the son of a golf coach.
He first played golf at the age of five and determined early in life that he wanted to become a professional golfer.
Sam turned professional in 1970, when he was 16 years of age. He went on to have a very successful individual career, securing 21 victories on the European Tour, and 43 career wins in total.
But golf fans will always associate him with The Ryder Cup. Sam played in eight Ryder Cups and has won the event as both a player and a captain. He was part of the team that, over a number of years, overcame a long period of US Ryder Cup domination and established Europe as a competitive force in the event.
He is perhaps best known for holing the putt that won the 1985 Ryder Cup for Europe at the Belfry. And 17 years later, at the same course, Europe won the Ryder Cup under Sam’s captaincy. He now plays on the European Senior Tour.
Des was born in Drogheda, Ireland, in 1953.
After joining the European Tour in 1974, he went on to record eight victories – the biggest coming in 1993 at the Madrid Open. His last victory was at the Madeira Island Open in 2001.
Since then, Des has competed on the European Senior Tour, where he has won five times. Des won 2 titles on the PGA Champions Tour in 2005, when he finished in the top 10 on the money list.
Des played in two Ryder Cups, in 1979 and 1981. In 1988, he was a member of the Irish team that won the Alfred Dunhill Cup, and represented his country in World Cups and Alfred Dunhill Cups on nine other occasions.
Des served as a vice-captain to Ian Woosnam at the 2006 Ryder Cup in Ireland. He acted as a mentor to Paul McGinley, the 2014 captain, when Paul first joined the European Tour in 1992.
Gleneagles in Scotland will provide the test for European and American golfers in 2014. Back in 1921, Gleneagles was the venue for an unofficial match between the professionals of Great Britain & Ireland and the US – an event that provided inspiration for the first Ryder Cup in 1927.
“Pretty as a picture”
This phrase was used by American golfer Walter Hagen as he looked out at Gleneagles in 1921, when he led the US Team in the first unofficial match between leading professionals of Great Britain & Ireland, and the US. This event is generally acknowledged as the inspiration for The Ryder Cup, which was established six years later. “The sun lit up the golden glory of the gorse,” reported The Scotsman newspaper.
In 2014, the US team led by Tom Watson will strive to win on European soil for the first time since 1993. The match will be played over The PGA® Centenary Course, which was created by Jack Nicklaus. The 18-time Major winner brought his vast Ryder Cup experience to the task. The course was previously known as the Monarch's Course and was renamed in 2001 to celebrate the centenary of The PGA. It has been redesigned specifically for The Ryder Cup.
Visitors to Gleneagles will doubtless agree with the views of Wild Bill Mehlhorn, one of Walter Hagen’s team who competed there in 1921. “If a man can’t play golf here then he can’t play,” said Mehlhorn. “Aye,” said George Duncan, his Scottish counterpart. “This is as beautiful as golf gets.”
Here is a flavor of what the players and fans can expect in 2014:
- 10th hole: A 208-yard par 3 offering stunning views of the Grampians, reflecting Nicklaus’s own view of Gleneagles as “the finest parcel of land in the world I have ever been given to work with.”
- 14th hole: In some ways, this 330-yard par 4 is a throwback to a previous era. But, despite its length, the hole shouldn’t be underestimated. Those tempted to drive the green must take into consideration six protecting bunkers. A great match play hole.
- 17th hole: The name of the hole offers a warning: Ca’ Canny, translated as Be Careful. A par 3 of 194 yards, with a ridge lurking for anything that leaks away from the hole.
- 18th hole: Many a Ryder Cup has been decided on the final hole, and the 533-yard 18th at The PGA Centenary Course awaits the teams in 2014. With two par 5s in the last three holes, Nicklaus has ensured that excitement and drama is all but guaranteed for the huge crowds that will gather around the final green.