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Gleneagles 2014

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EY Ryder cup - Ryder Cup brains trust

Ryder Cup brains trust

Posted: 24 September 2014

Paul McGinley has appointed five vice-captains to help him lead Europe’s 2014 Ryder Cup campaign.

They are:

Padraig Harrington
Miguel Ángel Jiménez
José María Olazábal
Des Smyth
Sam Torrance

Earlier this year, Paul told EY about the important role played by the vice-captains: ↓ [... more]

The Ryder Cup captain has a real challenge. In most sports, managers or coaches can watch all the action in the arena in front of them. Their assistants are watching the same arena and, together, they can make decisions based on what they see. 

In a Ryder Cup, it is very different. On the first two days, there is action in four arenas at the same time. Four matches on four different holes. And the captain can only watch one at a time.  

To cover the action, a vice-captain needs to walk with each group, while the captain can roam the course.

I will have to rely pretty much solely on what the vice-captains who are following the games say about each player’s performance.

The information that the captain gets back from the vice-captains is very important in determining the players who will compete in the next session and who will be rested.

So it is a very challenging situation for the captain. This is why picking the right team of vice-captains around me is absolutely essential.

I need people who I know are going to have very qualified and validated reasoning behind all the information they are giving me.

And the vice-captains are important to the players too. They have to get on with the players.

I know from my own experience as a player that, when you are competing in the intensity of a Ryder Cup, it makes things a lot easier if you are well acquainted with the vice-captain who is following your game and if you have a lot of regard for him. 

McGinley on Padraig Harrington

"Padraig is my oldest friend on the Tour and is a guy I have known most of my life. We went to school together, came through the amateur ranks together and have been together in many contests for both Ireland and Europe over the years. As well as being a three-time major champion, Padraig is still very active on the Tour; in Europe, where all the players know him well, and also in the US, where he is familiar with the Tour and its players."

McGinley on Miguel Ángel Jiménez

"Miguel is someone who the spectators love and he’s very popular with all the players. He is a guy who I have a lot of faith in. I've listened to him and discussed many issues with him on the players’ committee. And he always acts with complete integrity. Miguel’s appointment also maintains the continuity I was looking for when I named him captain of the European team for the inaugural EurAsia Cup match in March. He did very well that week and all the players in that team enjoyed working with him. It will be the same at Gleneagles."

McGinley on José María Olazábal

"José María’s passion for The Ryder Cup is recognized the world over. It was obvious in his legendary partnership with Seve Ballesteros and was also very apparent two years ago at Medinah. So I’m delighted he has accepted my invitation to be involved again, maintaining that important continuity. Like Miguel, he brings a wonderful continental European flavor to the team room and is liked by everyone. He will also bring vital knowledge and experience of every element associated with The Ryder Cup, both on and off the course."

McGinley on Des Smyth

"Des took me under his wing when I was a 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. His views and ideas about The Ryder Cup have consistently proved to be spot on. I really enjoyed working with him as a vice-captain in 2006, when I was a player."

McGinley on Sam Torrance

"Sam probably had the most influence on me in terms of playing team golf in my career. As my first captain at The Ryder Cup in 2002, he taught me a huge amount and has continued to do so over the years. Sam’s man management skills made a great impression on me when I played under him in 2002. Since those early days, our relationship has grown to see us become firm friends."

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Winning words

In 1979, players from the British Isles were joined by their continental counterparts to form Team Europe.

Since then, eight men have captained Europe to Ryder Cup victory.

Each has brought his own leadership qualities to the role, from Tony Jacklin’s instilling of belief to José María Olazábal’s never-say-die attitude.

Here, in their own words, are some thoughts on the captaincy and leadership.

  • EY Ryder cup - Tony JacklinTony Jacklin
    Winning captain at the Belfry, 1985 and Muirfield Village, 1987
    “To succeed, first you need to think you can succeed.”
  • EY Ryder cup - Bernard GallacherBernard Gallacher
    Winning captain at Oak Hill, 1995
    “You have to anticipate the unexpected.”
  • EY Ryder cup - Severiano BallesterosSeveriano Ballesteros:
    Winning captain at Valderrama, 1997
    “Competing for your team-mates, your country and your continent is unforgettable.”
  • EY Ryder cup - Sam TorranceSam Torrance
    Winning captain at the Belfry, 2002
    “Leave egos at the door. Each man is equal.”
  • EY Ryder cup - Bernhard LangerBernhard Langer
    Winning captain at Oakland Hills, 2004
    “Tiny details add up. They make a difference.”
  • EY Ryder cup - Ian WoosnamIan Woosnam
    Winning captain at the K Club, 2006
    “Make sure anybody can approach you for advice or to voice concerns.”
  • EY Ryder cup - Colin MontgomerieColin Montgomerie
    Winning captain at Celtic Manor, 2010
    “Everybody needs to feel that they are part of the team.”
  • EY Ryder cup - José María OlazábalJosé María Olazábal
    Winning captain at Medinah, 2012
    You cannot give in. You have to keep fighting to the end.”

  • Related content

    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.”

    EY Ryder cup - Sam Torrance

    Sam Torrance

    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. ↓ [... more]

    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. ↑ [... less]

    EY Ryder cup - Des Smyth

    Des Smyth

    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. ↓ [... more]

    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. ↑ [... less]


    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. ↓ [... more]

    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.

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