Paul McGinley continues to make it clear that he will be his own man when attempting to mastermind Europe’s Ryder Cup defence at Gleneagles next year.
From the time Darren Clarke and Colin Montgomerie broke their promises and opposed the Dubliner for the captaincy, both were consigned to the furthest recesses of McGinley’s mind.
Only a few days after spurning the claims of Clarke and Thomas Bjorn as captains of the British & Irish and European teams in the Seve Trophy in favour of old hands Sam Torrance and Jose-Maria Olazabal, he hinted quietly but pointedly that those who play almost all of their golf in the United States and ignore their home circuit unless it pays them to come home may be putting their places in jeopardy.
McGinley’s position in this regard was also strengthened when he successfully negotiated with the European Tour that he should have three “wild card” picks as against the two allocated to Olazabal at Medinah last year.
So when he came out with his “horses for courses” remark prior to the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles, he was also making it clear that loyalty to the European Tour figured high on his list of priorities.
If he is as good as his word, then the captain would have to bear the performances of first-time winner Tommy Fleetwood, Bernd Wiesberger, Stephen Gallacher, Thorbjorn Olesen and Shane Lowry (“I played with him for two days and can honestly say I never saw anybody drive the ball better”, McGinley told Sky Sports) in mind but it would take some stretch of the imagination to see any of the quintet getting the call when push comes to shove.
This week’s Welsh Open at Celtic Manor is the first counting tournament for next year’s team and once again it has to be a source of frustration for McGinley that only Francesco Molinari of the 2012 team bothered to enter, while all his key men continue to place their emphasis on the lucrative FedEx Cup play-offs in the States.
Interestingly, with the honourable exception of Justin Rose who finished one behind Adam Scott in second place in the Barclays on Sunday after three-putting the final green, the rest of the Europeans were virtually nowhere in the FedEx Cup opener. Next best, in fact, was Rory McIlroy in a share of 19th, one spot ahead of Lee Westwood, while Graeme McDowell and Ian Poulter missed the cut.
The leading 100 move on this week to the Deutsche Bank Championship in Boston, where McIlroy defends his crown.
Pleading “burn out” after a long and unrewarding year in the US, Pádraig Harrington has withdrawn from Wales, but it is good to see him resume his European Tour activity in the European Masters and the KLM Dutch Open over the following two weeks, where he needs to do well to break back into the top world’s 50.
Good too to see McGinley make the cut at Gleneagles where he has also been casting an eye over the lay-out as he contemplates how best to set it up for his team’s cause come Ryder Cup time.
Phelan heads Irish Euro Tour School hopefuls
There is a strong Irishcontingent heading to the European Tour School qualifiers with hopes and dreams of making it into the big league.
Some will do so with genuine hope of success, but results will prove only too accurately that the majority never had a chance.
Among those who have graduated from Tour School include major championship winners Jose-Maria Olazabal, Vijay Singh, Paul Lawrie, Retief Goosen, Michael Campbell, Geoff Ogilvy, Angel Cabrera, Pádraig Harrington, Charl Schwartzel, Louis Oosthuizen, Darren Clarke and Justin Rose.
Kevin Phelan, the Irish-American fromWaterford Castle, faces a busy September. Along with 18 year-old Gavin Moynihan from the Island club in Dublin, he represents thedirect Irish interest in the Walker Cup match at the weekend before moving onto the Tour qualifier at Ribagolfe, Lisbon, on September 24.
Simon Ward, the South of Ireland Championship champion, has entered out of the Belvoir Park club in Belfast, and other notable aspirants include Paul Cutler and Alan Dunbar of the successful 2011 Walker Cup side; 2012 South finalist Stephen Healy from Claremorris; Monkstown club pro Cian McNamara; amateur internationals Nicky Grant and Reeve Whitson and Muskerry’s Niall Turner.
Irish contenders: September 10 at Roxburghe Hotel, Kelso, Damien Mooney; September 17 at Wychwood Park, Crewe, Paul Cutler, Alan Dunbar, Stephen Healy (Claremorrisamateur), David P Jones.
September 17 At Fleenensee, Germany, Niall Kearney, Cian McNamara; September 24 at Ribagolfe, Lisbon, Simon Ward, Nicky Grant, Kevin Phelan, Reeve Whitson; October 1 at Frilford Heath, England, Shane Franklin; At Hardelot, France: Richard Kilpatrick, Tim Rice, Niall Turner.
All-Ireland Cups and Shields line-up revealed
The schedule for the All-Ireland Cups and Shields at Royal Tara(September 18-21) has beencompleted after victories for Rosapenna and Carton House in theUlster and Leinster finals of the Senior Cup.
Rosapenna are a surprise packet having emerged from the highly competitive Ulster section with Frank Casey Junior; Donal Boyle, Enda Kenney, Patrick Kennedy and Martin McDermott paying no heed to their underdog status.
Carton House are also celebrating, having annexed their first Leinster Branch pennant at Bray Golf Club. Their squad of Shane and NiallMcGlynn, David Carey, SeanO’Connor, Colin Cunningham, Marc Boucher, Conor Glynn, Lee McMillan and Sean Walsh, defeated Dun Laoghaire in the provincial decider.
The Royal Tara programme
Wednesday 18: Barton Shield semi-finals: Cork v Clandeboye; Rosslare v Co Sligo. Junior Cup semi-finals: Slieve Russell v Westport; Laytown & Bettystown v Ballybunion.
Thursday 19: Junior Cup final. Barton Shield final. Pierce Purcell Shield semi-finals, Rossmore v Spanish Point; Corrstown v Athlone.
Friday 20: Senior Cup semi-finals, Rosapenna v Carton House; Co Sligo v Cork. Pierce Purcell Shield final. Jimmy Bruen Shield semi-finals, Castlecomer v Killorglin; Athlone v Tandragee.
Saturday 21: Senior Cup final; Jimmy Bruen Shield semi-finals.
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