Eddie Jordan interview: Behind-the-scenes Ryder Cup 2014 caddie carrying hopes for Europe

Eddie Jordan, steeped in Irish golfing culture and a close associate of Paul McGinley, tells Kevin Garside about his role in the captain's Ryder Cup set-up, bringing Victor Dubuisson on board and how Gleneagles next week will beat any thrill in F1

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The Independent Online

Every man is entitled to a lucky charm, and few would argue that Eddie Jordan is not lucky. He banked millions from the timely sale of his eponymous Formula One team, sails around the world contesting sundry regattas, has homes in Monaco and Wentworth, plays golf off a handicap of 12 and, jammiest of all, is part of the European Ryder Cup inner sanctum, an unseen hand operating in support of his old friend, the captain Paul McGinley.

Jordan’s group The Robbers, with whom he plays percussion, will be the house band for this year’s cup, playing to guests at Gleneagles on Thursday and Friday. More than that, Jordan is part of the fabric of McGinley’s private team. The families are intimately connected not only through their personal friendship but that of their wives, Marie and Ally.

Indeed, the Jordans are steeped in the culture of Irish golfing society. Marie won the East of Ireland mixed foursomes with Rory McIlroy’s caddie J P Fitzgerald and is a former ladies captain at Sunningdale. Jordan’s parents were also captains at their local club, Bray, in Dublin. Jordan claims he was off five as a kid and famously caddied for McGinley at the 2005 BMW Open in Germany.

To complete the association, Jordan’s daughter Zoë, a fashion designer of growing repute, had significant input in the design of the WAG wardrobe for next week.

“I’m there for anything Paul wants. There might be something needs organising behind the scenes, something needs doing, someone needs looking after, that kind of thing. I’m a mate, nothing more, and mates like to help if they can, don’t they?” Jordan said.

“I know most of the team. Rory has stayed with us at Wentworth. My daughter and Rory are great mates. On the Saturday night at this year’s BMW Championship he came around for curry with JP and Shane Lowry and his caddie. It was a great Irish hooley. The next day he came from seven back to win it and Shane came from six back to finish second. They have been ringing up ever since asking Marie for the recipe.”

 

Jordan has already proved himself invaluable, hosting a dinner on a yacht in Monaco to enable McGinley to get to know better the enigmatic Victor Dubuisson, the talented French rookie who stunned the game by winning the WGC-Accenture Match Play in February to all but ensure automatic qualification for the European team.

Jordan claims to be the author of Dubuisson’s nickname, D’Artagnan. If that is a bit of a stretch, his talent as a host is beyond question. “Paul came down to Monaco. He asked me to set up a dinner. It was an opportunity to get to know Victor better. Victor came with a mate, Paul came with Ally, there was myself and Marie and a few others.

“I had not met Victor before but there wasn’t anything he could not tell me about Jordan. He is a motor racing fanatic. He has real style. He brought with him one of the most expensive Bordeaux wines money can buy, that will tell you it was a Rothschild. Let me tell you he will be a big thing in this Ryder Cup, maybe a surprise for a lot of people. He is very much his own man, a fantastic character, and he won’t be overawed.”

Supremo-Bernie-Ecclestone-speaks-with-Eddie-Jordan.jpg
Supremo Bernie Ecclestone speaks with Eddie Jordan

 

Jordan was already a successful Formula One team owner when McGinley rerouted via a serious knee injury from Gaelic football to golf. Their Dublin connectivity and shared golfing background brought them into each other’s orbit despite the 19 years between them.

“I played golf all my life. I was brought up on the game. I play off 12 just now but as a teenager I was off five or six. Golf in Ireland is not like it is in some other countries where it is considered upper-class and snooty. You can see that with the likes of Darren, Paul, Harrington, Rory, Des Smyth, Christy O’Connor Snr and Jnr, ordinary guys from normal families.”

Among his mementos from a career at sport’s high table Jordan reserves a special place for the card and yardage book he used to guide McGinley around Munich. “It was not so much about pulling clubs. That is the least of it. Paul was like a lot of golfers who don’t have quite the ruthless mentality you see in F1, where everybody thinks he is going to win even though only one can. I like to think I helped a little in that direction that week.”

Jordan has a raft of golden memories of Ryder Cup experiences. He rates McGinley’s winning putt in 2002 among his most treasured. “Under pressure to win the cup as a rookie, that putt across the green, the fall of the putt etc. I just thought it was a magic moment to win the cup and no better person to do it. Everybody wished that ball in.

“Christy O’Connor at The Belfry, that 2-iron to the green was another great memory, Seve from under the tree at Valderrama. Darren at The K Club was a hugely emotional affair. It captured the attention of not just Ireland but the whole of golf. I was there applauding them on to the tee box at the start. Four years ago I stayed at Celtic Manor. I have known some magical moments with Jordan in F1, but the Ryder Cup is special on its own terms, a unique event in sport.”

Despite his chaotic demeanour and often comic output, there is a serious side to Jordan that commands respect, as a leader and a judge of talent. He put a young Ayrton Senna in a Formula Three car at Macau in 1983 and eight years later gave Michael Schumacher his start in Formula One at Spa. So his view on McGinley’s qualities as captain might be worth noting.

“Alain Prost was a great driver, not so successful as a team boss. You can’t assume that being a brilliant driver will automatically make you a brilliant leader. The same with golf. I know much is being made of Tom Watson’s qualities and his career as an all-time great. Paul can’t boast that. He doesn’t need to. Paul is very laid-back, very thoughtful, very caring but, by God, when he wants something to happen it will happen. In his own quiet manner he gets things done. I have no doubt he will prove a great captain of this team.”

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