World number one Rory McIlroy insists he isn’t the new Ryder Cup king-maker, but appreciates his voice was heard.
Along with Luke Donald and Ian Poulter, four-time major winner McIlroy put his full support behind Paul McGinley when the European captaincy for Gleneagles was decided in January 2013.
McGinley received praise from within and outside the team for the way he handled preparations and the event itself as he guided Europe to a 16 1/2 to 11 1/2 win over the United States.
Attention is already turning towards who will lead the side at Hazeltine in 2016. McIlroy will offer his views but played down the significance of his support.
“I wouldn’t say I am a king-maker but I feel like my opinion and view is listened to,” he said.
“I wanted to throw all my support behind Paul because I thought this would be his only chance to do it and I knew there was no better candidate. I’m glad he proved me right this week.”
McGinley’s methods of inclusivity and meticulous attention to detail were appreciated by the players and contrasted starkly with that of the United States.
America’s most experienced player Phil Mickelson opened a rift at the post-event press conference after criticising the management of Tom Watson, saying the players were never consulted on any decisions.
McIlroy felt McGinley got his approach just right as communication with the team was vital.
“Of course it is, you have to make sure your players are comfortable,” he added.
“We had a great team meeting on Saturday evening about where we wanted to play and what order we wanted to go out in. Paul said ‘If anyone is not happy with this we’ll change it, we’ll figure it out’, so every decision this week that has been made the vice-captains and players have all been involved in.
“I know he has lived and breathed the Ryder Cup for the last two years and has made sure everything has gone right and gone to plan. I hope it is something that future European captains can go on with, it is a template to follow. As Paul said all week he didn’t want to reinvent the wheel he just wanted to enhance it and that is what he did. I am probably a little biased but I’d say he was the best captain (in McIlroy’s three Ryder Cups).”
By comparison Watson’s approach appeared to be muddled and confused. He played Mickelson and Keegan Bradley twice on Friday and not at all on Saturday but admitted afterwards he should probably have put them out on the second day rather than benching them for both sessions. Europe had no such issues but McIlroy said they did not know or care what was happening inside their opponents’ locker room.
“The first two days it is all about chemistry but Paul said to us going into the singles ‘Just get back to being your selfish selves’ – and that’s what golfers are, it is an individual game,” he added. “He said ‘That is the best way to contribute to the team’.
“We really didn’t pay attention to what was going on in the American team or how the dynamic was, we were just concentrating on ourselves.
“All I know is the European team really enjoyed themselves; we had an unbelievable captain in Paul McGinley and that really helped and brought us together.”