La QUINTA, Calif. – Paul McGinley was a popular choice for European Ryder Cup captain on the range at the Humana Championship on Tuesday.
Europeans and Americans alike had nothing but praise for the Irishman, who will lead the Europeans into Gleneagles in 2014 in the biennial matches against the U.S.
In fact, it was impossible to find anyone who had a bad thing to say about McGinley.
“You almost have to force yourself to not like the Europeans that week when Paul McGinley is one of the best guys I’ve ever met,” Stewart Cink said of the three-time Ryder Cupper. “You don’t want to be real buddy-buddy with the enemy during that week. But when it’s over, I get to go back to liking that guy (McGinley) again.”
Among the Americans, Cink and Jim Furyk have the most experience playing against McGinley, having faced him three times in Ryder Cup history.
And Cink’s admiration for the Irishman runs very deep.
“He’s a perfect ambassador for golf,” Cink said. “He’s a real gentleman. He’s a great competitor, and he’s a true European, and he’ll love it. He’ll bring a lot. He’s a great pick for them.”
Ross Fisher played under McGinley twice in the Seve Trophy, a biennial team match of professionals from Great Britain and Ireland against continental Europe. The Englishman, now a PGA Tour member, said McGinley has that rare quality of being likable and well-respected at the same time.
Fisher also praised McGinley for his gritty determination as a player and a captain.
Fisher recalled a time during one Seve Trophy when the GB&I team held a comfortable lead and McGinley came in on Saturday night and rallied the troops to make sure they stayed focused for the final day.
“You need to take the bull by the horns, go out tomorrow, really give it to them,” Fisher recalled McGinley saying. “They’re going to come out breathing fire. But at the same time during the speech, he (showed) his determination, will and his desire to want to win.”
Former U.S. Ryder Cup captain Davis Love III said McGinley makes a good fit with the players who will compete for spots on the 2014 Ryder Cup team.
Love also felt that McGinley was well aware of the difficulties of being a captain, having served as an assistant captain for the past two Ryder Cups, both won by Europe.
McGinley sent a note to Love after the U.S. loss in September at Medinah, Ill., an act of kindness that Love says fit McGinley’s persona.
“They all know him so well and like him so well, and they could probably just bring the same five guys they brought last time, let José María (Olazabal, the Europeans’ 2012 captain) go back to being an assistant like he was for Colin (Montgomerie in 2010),” Love said.
But Love also offered some advice for McGinley, whose American captain counterpart won four of his five Open Championship titles in Scotland and is a favorite son among the Scots.
“Watch out for Tom Watson.”