TRIPLE Ryder Cup-winner Paul McGinley has strongly hinted for the first time his interest in being a European Ryder Cup vice-captain later this year at Celtic Manor.
McGinley has shied away from the subject ever since Colin Montgomerie was officially appointed captain during last year’s Dubai Desert Classic.
But with Jose Maria Olazabal confirming on the eve of today’s starting French Open in Versailles that he will not accept a similar position, favouritism for the positions has fallen in the lap of McGinley and Denmark’s Thomas Bjorn.
Olazabal is a surprise starter in the €3m Versailles event given he has not played anywhere since finishing 14th in last October’s Castellon Masters in Spain.
The double Augusta National winning Spaniard continues to battle pain in his shoulders and joints so much so he has visited various specialists but is still without a cure.
However, Olazabal has now confirmed once and for all that he will not been travelling to Celtic Manor in October whether as a member of Montgomerie’s back-room team or as an official guest.
“No, I am not going to be a vice-captain as I have done it before and besides I have more important issues going on my health,” said Olazabal.
“I was vice-captain for Nick Faldo and I did talk to Colin in Dubai when he was chosen at captain but, at the moment, I have more things to worry about so I will not be a vic-captain at Celtic Manor.
“I want to give myself the best chance to rid myself from this pain I am experiencing in my body, so I don’t need that extra pressure involved with being part of a Ryder Cup team.
“Besides I never said I was going to be a vice-captain so I don’t know how that ever came about.”
McGinley declined Nick Faldo’s request to be a Valhalla vice-captain but given his current 76th standing on the European Team Points table, the 43-year-old probably believes the timing is right to state his willingness to help the European Team cause.
“Monty is quite right not to rush into appointing his vice-captains but my value would be from the Monday morning of Ryder Cup week but not at the moment,” said McGinley.
“So I know my name has been mentioned, but I actually haven’t been asked yet.
“And if I was asked I would say ‘Yes.
However McGinley also stressed the need not to take any negatives out of Olazabal’s decision.
“Let’s not turn Ollie’s decision into a negative as the European Team is going to be the strongest team ever in the history of the Ryder Cup and there is no doubt about that,” said McGinley.
“We are going to be strong favourites for the first time. It’s going to be a very positive experience and the fact that Olazabal doesn’t want the job then maybe he didn’t enjoy the job at Valhalla.
“He no doubt has his reasons. He’s a very private guy and hugely respected by all the players, and the one thing he has more than anything is his integrity and if he doesn’t want the role then so be it.”
McGinley’s main focus will be on this week’s €3m French Open and apart from a first Tour win in five years, he also will be striving to secure a place into next fortnight’s British Open at St. Andrews.
The leading player among the top five finishers, and not already exempt, will earn a July 15 tee time on the Old Course.
At present there is six Irish set to contest the 150th anniversary of the British Open with Birr’s Colm Moriarty the latest after finishing the leading qualifier by three strokes on Tuesday in a 36-hole qualifier at Kingsbarns.
Joining McGinley on the 2018 Ryder Cup candidate course is eight other Irish including World No. 10 Rory McIlroy who revealed he shed some tears in watching coverage of Graeme McDowell’s Pebble Beach success.
“I was starting to get a bit emotional and started to cry but then Holly said to me ‘what are you doing?” said McIlroy.
“It’s just that I have known G Mac for so long and we go back a lot way, and I was just so pleased for him.”
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