McIlroy’s sweet on McGinley to lead the fight against Watson

World No 1 makes clear who his preference is for the next European Ryder Cup captain

Rory McIlroy was straight on the tweet button volunteering his support for Paul McGinley as the man to lead Europe against Tom Watson’s Americans at Gleneagles yesterday.

The appointment of Watson to the role of Ryder Cup captain adds an intriguing element to European deliberations ahead of the formal vote taken by the tournament committee next month.

That the world’s No 1 golfer should be bothered to voice an opinion at all via the ether reflects the growing importance of a role once considered ceremonial. That was in the days when the United States would routinely spank the Anglo-Saxon rear and the event had to beg broadcasters for airtime. Not in the European epoch.

The return of Watson is designed not only to halt a run of just two wins in nine events but to fulfil the Hollywood component the Ryder Cup has acquired in recent years. It is both a ratings winner and commercial powerhouse, with estimates putting its value to the Chicago region at $130m (£80m). The opening ceremony is only a firework or two shy of a state occasion. Indeed, Scotland’s first minister Alex Salmond was an early responder to the Watson announcement, offering the congratulations of a nation and pledging a warm response in 2014.

So how do Europe respond? The two candidates at the head of the queue are diametrically opposed in terms of character and achievement. Darren Clarke has the record and the profile, McGinley the love of Europe’s most important player, McIlroy, and its talisman, Ian Poulter, who raised the flag for the Dubliner at the season-ending DP World Tour Championship in Dubai last month.  The recent selection pattern has followed the American practice of rewarding tour loyalty and outstanding achievement. Captains have tended to range in age between 45 and 51 and boast at least one major on their résumé. The only European captain since 2004 not to have a major in the bank was Colin Montgomerie, but he was a runner-up five times, won the European Order of Merit seven times on the spin and reached No 2 in the world rankings.  

Clarke has the major, bagged memorably in the wind and rain of Royal St George’s last year, more than 20 tournament wins around the world and a unique Ryder Cup narrative associated with the death of his first wife, Heather, to cancer on the eve of the 2006 tournament at the K Club in Dublin, where he won the hearts of the nation.

Thus Clarke has the Hollywood credentials to pitch against Watson at Gleneagles. McGinley, who sank the putt that won the Ryder Cup at The Belfry 10 years ago, is a popular figure on tour, and successfully captained Great Britain & Ireland at the Vivendi Trophy in Paris last year, but has nothing like the wider appeal of Clarke.

No smoke signals yet from the European Tour indicating which way the vote might go, only recognition of the stature of the American leading the foe. Richard Hills, European Ryder Cup director, said: “Tom is one of the most highly respected individuals the game of golf has known and will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the role.”

Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
Life and Style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
Life and Style
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits