PAUL McGINLEY felt the love of players and fans alike yesterday on his first full day as Europe’s new Ryder Cup captain.
And it did not take long for him to be reminded of the size and scope of the job he was taking on as messages of congratulations came in from around the world.
Closer to home – or rather closer to him in Abu Dhabi – came words of support from Colin Montgomerie, the 2010 captain who in the final days before the decision was taken had become his biggest rival for the task of taking on Tom Watson’s America at Gleneagles next year.
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‘‘We’ll all get behind Paul now – we wish him well,’’ said Montgomerie.
The same words kept coming up from all those delighted by 46-year-old McGinley becoming the first Irish captain in the history of the event.
Graeme McDowell, the 2010 match-winner, said most of them in his message – ‘‘thoughtful, articulate, prepared, motivated, fair and respected’’.
So prepared, in fact, that McGinley had even thought about how best to react if he had been informed he had not been appointed.
‘‘I had notes in my pocket about how I was going to project myself and what I was going to do,’’ said the man whose ten-foot putt at The Belfry won the 2002 contest and who has never lost in nine Ryder Cup or Seve Trophy matches as a player, vice-captain or captain.
‘‘I assured George and Richard (European Tour chief executive George O’Grady and Ryder Cup director Richard Hills) that I would act with integrity.
‘‘If it wasn’t going to be, despite the players’ support, I would wish the winner the best of luck and leave it at that knowing that it was probably my last opportunity.
‘‘I don’t think I was going to be captain in two years’ time.’’ Last year’s triumphant captain Jose Maria Olazabal unsurprisingly and understandably played the Seve card to the full last September in the first match to be played since the 1997 captain lost his battle with a brain tumour at the age of only 54.
McGinley has vowed to keep the memory alive – it could be blue sweaters on the final day again – but also wants a Scottish flavour to the week. Do not expect that to include the team playing in kilts, however.