European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley has added experience to his backroom staff for the match at Gleneagles by naming veteran Ryder Cup players Sam Torrance and Des Smyth as his first two vice captains.
“The two men first came to mind to me when I was put in position as Ryder Cup captain last January in Abu Dhabi,” McGinley said. “These two men have been a sounding boards for me both personally and professionally, and they’ve proved time and again for me with their ability, their passion and their judgement that they are ideal for the role of vice-captaincy of the European team.”
Torrance played in eight consecutive matches between 1981 and 1995, compiling 7 wins, 15 losses and 5 halves. The 60-year-old captained the European team to victory at The Belfry in 2002, when McGinley holed the winning putt. Torrance famously holed the winning putt in the 1985 match at The Belfry, when Europe won the match for the first time since 1957.
The Scotsman will be a popular choice to play a leading role in only the second match to be staged in Scotland since the 1973 contest at Muirfield.
McGinley and Torrance played many times together on the European Tour. They also play a lot of social rounds. Both are members of Sunningdale Golf Club in Surrey, England.
“As everyone knows, we have a very close relationship and we bonded in 2002,” McGinley said. “It was behind the scenes that Sam made a huge impression on me. I felt tactically he made so many right calls. I felt he understood the players and understood what the Ryder Cup was about. His ability to motivate the players and communicate with the players had a lasting impression on me. Sam was up there as one of the first names for vice captaincy.”
Smyth, 61, was touted as a possibility to captain the European team that won at the K Club in 2006. He had to settle for the vice captaincy when the European Tour’s tournament committee selected Ian Woosnam instead.
Smyth played in the 1979 and 1981 matches, compiling a 2-5 record. He is a tremendously popular character on the European Tour, and is a close friend of McGinley.
“Des is a guy I’ve known since I was 17 years of age, “McGinley said. “He’s been a mentor for me on the professional circuit. He was a very natural choice for me. As a vice captain to Ian Woosnam at the K Club in 2006, I found him to be very inspirational, astute, the voice of reason and with great clarity of thought.”
Smyth will get another taste of vice captaincy when he acts as Miguel Angel Jimenez’s vice captain in the upcoming EURASIA Cup.
“The Ryder Cup has meant an awful lot to my own career,” Smyth said. “It was an absolute thrill to play in it and to be back in the fold again is absolutely fantastic. I hope I can support Paul in all the decision making.”
Torrance will take part in his 10th Ryder Cup. He is more closely linked with the match than anything else in golf because of that iconic photo in 1985 when he holed the winning putt on The Belfry’s 18th green after defeating U.S. Open champion Andy North.
“I was never more proud of my career than when I put on the sweater, and if I can do a tenth of what Paul did for my team then I’ll be a happy man,” Torrance said.
McGinley will add to his backroom staff, but won’t do so until the team is announced on September 2nd.
“It’s quite clear that a lot of my potential vice captains I’d like to see on the team,” McGinley said. “A lot are going to make a good shout at making the team and I don’t want to distract them with talk of vice captains.”