European captain Paul McGinley today named Sam Torrance and Des Smyth as his first two vice-captains for September’s Ryder Cup at Gleneagles.
McGinley played under Torrance and holed the winning putt at The Belfry in 2002, while Smyth was a vice-captain under Ian Woosnam for the record-equalling win at the K Club in 2006.
A further two vice-captains will be chosen later in the year, with McGinley waiting to see how his 12-man team is shaping up before making an announcement.
The Dubliner often plays golf against Torrance at Sunningdale and has made no secret of his admiration for the Scot’s handling of the captaincy after the 12-month postponement caused by the 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States.
“We won at The Belfry because of one reason, captain Sam Torrance,” McGinley said in 2012. “There’s no doubt about it and anyone on that team would tell you why.”
United States captain Tom Watson has already named Andy North and Ray Floyd as his vice-captains for the biennial contest from September 26-28.
McGinley said: ``I am delighted to officially unveil Des and Sam as two of my 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 to me in Scotland in September.
“They were the first two people I had in mind for this role when I was appointed captain and, since then, I have talked to a lot of the experienced European players about having them as part of the team and, to a man, they have been very supportive of the idea.
“Des took me under his wing when I was a young rookie on Tour and he gave me tremendous advice which was not only valuable then but has continued to ring true for me throughout my professional career.
“His views and ideas about the Ryder Cup particularly have consistently proved to be spot on and I really enjoyed working with him as a vice captain in 2006 when I was a player.
“Sam is a man who has probably had the most influence on me in terms of playing team golf in my career.
“Being my first captain in the Ryder Cup in 2002, 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 firm friends and, living not far apart, we see a lot of each other socially as well.”
Torrance, who holds the record for the most European Tour appearances in history with 706, expressed his pride at being welcomed back into the Ryder Cup fold.
“Everyone knows how much the Ryder Cup has meant to me over my career so I am absolutely delighted to be involved once again,” Torrance, who captained Great Britain & Ireland to victory in the Seve Trophy last year, said.
“Paul was a special part of my team at The Belfry in 2002 and he knows I will do everything possible to help him and the team at Gleneagles in September.”
Smyth was also delighted to be named vice-captain once again, adding: “I was thrilled when Paul contacted me and asked me to be one of his vice captains at Gleneagles – there was no hesitation for me in saying ’yes’.
“I relished the opportunity to be a vice captain at The K Club in 2006 and I look forward to playing a positive role once again in supporting Paul and the team.”
Smyth was also named as a vice captain to Miguel Angel Jimenez for this month’s inaugural staging of the EurAsia Cup between Europe and Asia.