The nine automatic qualifiers for McGinley’s team were confirmed on Sunday when Stephen Gallacher narrowly failed to dislodge Graeme McDowell from the side, the Scot finishing one shot outside the tie for second place he needed in the Italian Open.
McGinley hailed Gallacher’s “terrific performance” in closing with a flawless 65 to follow his seventh place in the previous event, but was quick to stress he would coldly assess the situation after the conclusion of the Deutsche Bank Championship last night.
Although there are no qualifying points on offer, ‘Miracle at Medinah’ heroes Luke Donald and Ian Poulter were competing in Boston, while another wild card hopeful, Lee Westwood, failed to qualify for the second FedEx Cup play-off event.
“There will be some very difficult decisions to be made,” McGinley said. “I have been on Tour now for 21 years, I know everyone.
“I’ve spoke about the bonding I felt with players I have played with, they would walk in the door and we have a sixth sense. You can imagine how difficult it’s going to be for me if I have to call one of them up and say, ‘I’m sorry, you’re not one of my picks’, I am maybe going with a rookie I don’t have any bonding with.
“That’s going to be very difficult for me but I am prepared for that. Olly [2012 captain Jose Maria Olazabal] made a wonderful point when people were talking about is he going to pick a player because you like or don’t like them, and he said this is the Ryder Cup. I’m here to win the Ryder Cup.
“Personal things go out of the window and that’s what it will be for me. I am prepared for the tough decisions, I am not afraid to make those.”
McGinley played alongside Westwood in 2002, ’04 and ’06, with Donald in ’04 and ’06 and just once with Poulter (’04) but was also vice-captain in 2010 and ’12 when all three players helped Europe claim narrow wins at Celtic Manor and Medinah.
The 47-year-old Dubliner will therefore be well aware of Poulter’s heroics in Chicago and, to a slightly lesser extent, the vital contributions of Donald and Westwood.
Westwood has made eight appearances in succession and won 21 points from 37 matches, while Donald has claimed 10-and-a-half points from 15 and Poulter an incredible 12 from 15.
It seems highly unlikely that Poulter would be left out despite an indifferent, injury-plagued season, and one of his posts on Twitter could be interpreted as meaning he has already been given the nod.
“It’s simple play well tomorrow & fly to Colorado for the BMW. Or the next strokeplay event would be the BMW in Shanghai on the 30th October,” Poulter wrote. The Ryder Cup is of course a matchplay event.
McGinley may also recall that Poulter and Donald were among the high-profile names to give him their backing as captain, Donald writing at the time: “I hope Paul McGinley gets his chances, he’s been an amazing vice-captain and deserves his opportunity.”
Against the past, McGinley must weigh up the present and Gallacher undoubtedly presents the strongest case for inclusion on current form, the 39-year-old finished seventh in the Czech Masters to put himself in with a shot ahead of the Italian Open.