The European Ryder Cup committee have decided to appoint a rookie as captain and that could make it difficult for Europe to retain the Cup as the United States will be led by Tom Watson (pictured).
Paul McGinley will be Europe’s captain for the matches at Gleneagles in 2014. It has been policy in recent years for a European captain to get the job once in his career and for that reason Colin Montgomerie was overlooked.
Montgomerie played in eight Ryder Cups and was a winning captain at Celtic Manor in 2010. McGinley has far less experience and success as a player. He has represented Europe in three Ryder Cups and won just four times in Europe.
The 2010 captain also has substantially more experience than McGinley of tournament golf at the highest level. Montgomerie has won the European Order of Merit eight times and has 31 titles in Europe to his name. He has yet to win a major despite a record of five second place finishes in 72 major championships.
McGinley always looked the most likely selection to lead the side next year. However, in the days leading up to the decision being announced Montgomerie was getting support to do the job for the second time in his career.
Tony Jacklin and Bernard Gallagher captained Europe more than once. However, they had the job during the early days of Europe’s dominance of the event when continuity was seen as a key element of maintaining the momentum.
The 2014 renewal will be the seventh occasion in succession for which Europe have selected a captain who has not done the job before. McGinley seemed to be a popular choice amongst the players, including Rory McIlroy and Luke Donald who both endorsed the decision.
Before Montgomerie was suggested as a player of sufficient standing to mirror the selection of Watson for the US team Darren Clarke was the only other genuine candidate for the role. However, it is only 18 months since Clarke won the British Open and he took himself out of the running by saying he still wanted to focus on his playing career.
The choice of Watson makes sense for several reasons. The United States have not won the Ryder Cup in Europe since 1993. Watson was the captain of the American team that won the Cup at The Belfry in Europe that year. However, Watson will be 65 at the 2014 Ryder Cup and that will make him the oldest captain in the history of the event.
The 2014 matches will bring together a man who has no experience of captaining a Ryder Cup side and one of the best players in the history of the game. The key to the matches will be how the respective team members respond to the person who has to lead and motivate during the matches over three days of intense competition.