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Wed Apr 16 09:25:16 SAST 2014

McGinley will have big advantage over Watson, says Poulter

Reuters | 14 February, 2013 17:360 Comments
Hyundai Tournament of Champions - Round One
Ian Poulter of England watches his tee shot on the 10th hole during the replay of the first round of the Tournament of Champions at the Plantation Course on January 6, 2013 in Kapalua, Hawaii
Image by: Christian Petersen / Getty Images

Ian Poulter believes next year’s Ryder Cup will turn into a ‘David and Goliath’ clash between rival captains Paul McGinley and Tom Watson and he is backing Europe’s skipper to come good against the American great.

Poulter, who inspired Europe’s comeback win over the United States in Illinois in September with a remarkable display of putting, feels McGinley, 46, will have an advantage over eight-times major winner Watson, 63, because he is close to his team.

“In many ways he will know his players better than Tom will know his, if for no other reason than he is a lot younger and so much closer to them in terms of playing,” the Englishman wrote in his column in the April edition of Golf World magazine.

“That may prove a big advantage. He will know what makes us tick and what we like — that’s healthy.

“Tom, because of his age, will inevitably be slightly more detached from his team. He won’t have played as much with the current crop of players.”

Poulter said he was delighted when McGinley was announced last month as the successor to Jose Maria Olazabal as captain.

The Irishman was given the nod by the European Tour’s 15-man Tournament Committee after they had also discussed the relative merits of triumphant 2010 skipper Colin Montgomerie, Paul Lawrie, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Sandy Lyle.

“In the end common sense prevailed because it would have been very unjust to have given the job to Colin,” said Poulter.

“While of course Colin was influential in our victory (in 2010), to give it to him again so soon would have been a ’reaction’ to Tom Watson’s selection and I think it would have been the wrong reaction.

“Paul may have only played in three (Ryder Cup) matches but we are never going to find a captain in Europe whose stature, record and career can begin to compare with Tom Watson,” added Poulter.

“We have to look at it as a bit of a David and Goliath affair. No one is expecting Paul to go toe-to-toe with Tom — he can’t — Paul just needs to be Paul.”

Poulter said there could have been a mini-revolt among the European players if McGinley, who has been a skipper in the Seve Trophy team event and a vice-captain in the last two Ryder Cups, had not been put in charge.

“It would have upset a lot of people as well as some of the players — and that becomes a very dangerous thing to do,” said the 37-year-old who had a perfect 4-0 record as Europe won at Medinah by 14-1/2 points to 13-1/2.

“It is going to be such a close match, the last thing in the world that Europe needs or wants is to start the week with a few players not in the best of moods.

“As players we thought Paul was the best man for the job and that’s why many of us made a public stand for him in the days leading up to the decision because we thought it was the right thing to do,” said Poulter.

The next edition of the biennial Ryder Cup will be held at Gleneagles, Scotland in September 2014. 

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