Paul McGinley gets captaincy

Updated: January 16, 2013, 4:22 AM ET
By Bob Harig | ESPN.com

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates -- Paul McGinley, who received overwhelming support from players who made up the European Ryder Cup team that won at Medinah in September, was named captain Tuesday night for the 2014 matches.

McGinley, 46, a three-time Ryder Cup participant who served as assistant captain the past two Ryder Cups, emerged from what appeared to be a spirited debate as to who should lead the team at Gleneagles, Scotland.

"Obviously absolutely thrilled and delighted to have this honor to lead the European team,'' said McGinley, who posted a 2-2-5 record in three winning European appearances and has four career European Tour titles. "To be leading the cream of the crop in the Ryder Cup is going to be a huge honor. To be honest, it is quite a humbling experience to be sitting in this seat. It is a week I am really looking forward to.''

The European Tour's tournament committee met at the swank St. Regis Hotel to pick a captain who would go up against the U.S. and their surprise pick last month of Tom Watson, who will captain the team for a second time.

Unlike the PGA of America, which conducts its search among executives, the European Tour has a committee comprised of 15 players. Three of them were not in Abu Dhabi, so 12 were on hand -- two of whom were said to be up for the job, McGinley and Colin Montgomerie.

Given the length of the discussion, it apparently was not a smooth, easy decision. Spain's Miguel Angel Jimenez, Scotland's Paul Lawrie and Scotland's Sandy Lyle also were considered, according to committee chairman Thomas Bjorn.

"It was a long time to wait as they decided,'' McGinley said.

In recent days, Northern Ireland's Darren Clarke -- long thought to be a lock for the job if he wanted it -- took his name out of consideration, saying he'd rather make a run at playing on the 2014 team. He's all but considered a shoo-in for the job when the Europeans travel to Minnesota for the 2016 matches at Hazeltine.

That left Ireland's McGinley as the assumed front-runner, with Montgomerie making a late push, the theory being that the Europeans needed a person of greater "stature" to lead them against the popular Watson, who won four of his five Open Championships in Scotland.

Montgomerie had insisted after leading the Europeans to a riveting 14½ to 13½ victory at Celtic Manor in Wales in 2010 that he would not seek the captaincy again. But apparently, the lure of going after the prize for a second time was too much.

This came despite overwhelming player support for McGinley, who was an assistant to Montgomerie in 2010 and Jose Maria Olazabal last September at Medinah.

On Wednesday, Montgomerie said he was fully behind McGinley, adding he was "flattered" to be considered and said he didn't campaign for the job.

Asked if he was bitter about not being chosen, the Scotsman said "goodness no, nothing to do with that at all."

Among those voicing their backing of McGinley has been No. 1-ranked Rory McIlroy.

"I have a very strong opinion about this,'' McIlroy said earlier Tuesday in advance of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship. "I really think Paul deserves it. He's been a great player and a great personality for the European Tour over the years and a great captain. I played under him at the Seve Trophy in 2009 (a competition that pits Great Britain and Ireland against continental Europe in a Ryder Cup style competition) and I thought he did a great job.

"And from all the captains that I've played under, I think he was the best. He really took a lot from what Bernhard Langer did in 2004 at Oakland Hills and left no stone unturned, and I think he will just approach it the right way.''

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Bob Harig | email

Golf Writer, ESPN.com

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