European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley has named Sam Torrance and Des Smyth as his first two vice-captains for September's competition at Gleneagles, in an announcement made in Dublin.
Torrance, 60, has a rich history with the tournament after he made eight appearances for Team Europe between 1981 and 1995 before successfully captaining the side to victory at The Belfry in 2002. He famously sealed continental Europe’s first win in the competition when he holed a 22-foot putt on the 18th, again at The Belfry, to defeat Andy North and hand his team an unassailable advantage.
Smyth also has ample experience of being involved in golf’s showpiece event having represented Europe in 1979 – the first-ever Ryder Cup to include continental European’s – as well as an appearance at Walton Heath in 1981, where Europe succumbed to a heavy 18.5-9.5 defeat at the hands of one of America’s best-ever line-ups.
In 2006, Smyth was one of Ian Woosnam’s vice-captains as Europe destroyed America at the K Club in his native Ireland and McGinley will be hoping to draw on this experience when the event takes place between 26-28 September at the PGA Centenary Course in Scotland.
With American captain Tom Watson earlier naming the experienced duo of North and Raymond Floyd as his two vice-captains, McGinley has followed suit and his close relationship with his former European Tour mentor Smyth may prove pivotal in providing his European team with the necessary advice to be victorious in the fiercely-fought contest.
McGinley said: “I am delighted to announce Des and Sam as my two 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 this year in Scotland.
“They were the first two people I had in mind when I was made captain, and since then I’ve spoken to a lot of experienced European players about having them as part of the team.
“Des took me under his wing when I was a rookie on Tour, and he’s always given me tremendous advice which was not only valuable but has continued to ring true throughout my professional career.
Torrance was McGinley’s first Ryder Cup captain in 2002, and was full of praise for the influence the Scot had on his own career: “I learned a huge amount from him and have continued to do so over the years.
“Since those early days, our relationship has grown to see us become friends and, living not far apart, we see a lot of each socially as well.”
McGinley is likely to name two further vice-captains before the tournament starts in the autumn, with the likes of 2011 Open Championship winner Darren Clarke and 46-year-old Spaniard Miguel Angel Jimenez being touted as possible additions.