Smyth’s early Ryder practice run

European Ryder Cup vice-captain Des Smyth will get an early chance to reacquaint himself with the rigours of the role when he teams up with Miguel Angel Jimenez for the inaugural EurAsia Cup in Malaysia in two weeks.

Smyth’s early Ryder practice run

Smyth, a vice-captain to Ian Woosnam in Europe’s 2006 victory over the United States at the K Club, was last Thursday honoured with the role for this year’s matches at Gleneagles in late September when 2014 captain Paul McGinley named his fellow Irishman and Scotland’s Sam Torrance as the first of his assistants.

McGinley had already flagged the involvement of Torrance, the Dubliner’s first Ryder Cup captain as a player in 2002 at The Belfry, by selecting the Scot to captain Great Britain & Ireland against Continental Europe in last year’s Seve Trophy in Paris. And the European skipper believes Smyth, 61 and a Ryder Cup player in 1979 and 81, will benefit massively from the experience alongside playing captain Jimenez in Kuala Lumpur later this month.

“Obviously having Sam as part of the Seve Trophy was part of the equation,” McGinley said. “I discussed that with him before last summer. What preempted me to move (naming vice captains) now was the evolution of the EurAsia Cup over the last five months.

“It’s gone from nothing to actually being in the diary and going to happen, then having Miguel Angel Jimenez being captain. I’d a long discussion with Miguel over that – about his vice-captain and it was just the perfect opportunity for Des to get some of the experience Sam had at the Seve Trophy.

Jimenez, who still has ambitions of making McGinley’s Ryder Cup team as a player and did his chances no harm at all at the weekend by finishing in a tie for 13th at the WGC-Cadillac Championship at Doral in Miami, said he was looking forward to having Smyth as his right-hand man as he plays the event with fellow team members Thomas Björn, Jamie Donaldson, Victor Dubuisson, Gonzalo Fernandez-Castaño, Stephen Gallacher, Pablo Larrazábal, Joost Luiten, Graeme McDowell and Thorbjørn Olesen.

“Des is a man with a lot of experience and someone I know I can trust so he will be a great vice-captain,” Jiménez said.

“Paul McGinley and I have spoken a lot about the EurAsia Cup team and how important an event it is in terms of The Ryder Cup. A lot of the guys on my team could be playing for Paul in September so the EurAsia Cup is a great opportunity for Des to reacquaint himself with the experienced players and integrate with the younger guys.”

Smyth, whom McGinley described as his mentor since he joined the professional ranks in 1991, last played on the European Tour in 2002, having won the 2001 Madeira Island Open for the eighth Tour victory of his career and has since won seven times on the over-50s circuit, twice on the US Champions Tour and five times on the European Senior Tour.

“I already know a lot of the players such as Graeme, Thomas, Gonzalo and Stephen,” Smyth said. “It’s something I’m really looking forward to and I’m looking forward to meeting some of the young players that I haven’t seen live yet, like this young man (Victor) Dubuisson, he looks a wonderful player.”

Smyth’s job in Malaysia will fit in perfectly with the way he sees his role leading up to the 40th Ryder Cup matches in Scotland, starting on Friday, September 26, when Europe will bid to win the famous trophy for a third time in a row following victories at Celtic Manor in 2010 and Medinah in 2012.

“I see myself in a supportive role for Paul between now and then, keeping an eye on all the players, as I do anyway. I’m a bit of a golf nerd, I watch lots of golf and keep in contact with the players. I just enjoy what I’ve always done and I suppose that’s one of the reasons why Paul asked me.

“When Paul’s asked me stuff, I didn’t realise this but I always seemed to have answers for him.

“Unaware to me, I was giving him the type of stuff he was actually looking for.

“I’ve always kept talking about young players and good players and had the good fortune of dining a fewtimes with Rory on his way up.”

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