Paul McGinley swells with pride and fond memories turning into the gates at the Gleneagles Hotel – but now it’s tinged with sadness as well.
It’s only eight years since McGinley captained Europe to a resounding and unforgettable victory over the USA in the Ryder Cup in Perthshire. He’s back competing in this week’s Senior Open on the King’s Course.
It should be a moment of joy for him. But all that’s happening in golf makes it a more melancholy experience than it should be.
‘I have great memories here, but there’s great sadness’
— DP World Tour (@DPWorldTour) December 30, 2019
“This is a special place,” he said. “Every time you come through the gates and up to the hotel, walk through the corridors, the memories come flooding back.
“I have great memories here. But there’s great sadness about what is going on in the game at the moment.
“It’s not terminal. I’m hoping it’s not going to be terminal. I’m hoping there is going to be some kind of an arrangement made at some stage.”
McGinley is torn between long-term friendships with players who have moved to LIV Golf and his loyalty to the established game.
“It’s important to me to maintain a relationship with all the players I have stood shoulder to shoulder with in Ryder Cups,” he said. “Especially the one here and the guys I captained.
“There were great moments and great bondings made. And whatever happens it’s important we don’t lose those bondings.
“I don’t know what I would have done. I’m part of the establishment now. I’ve done well in the game but that’s just me. I don’t think it’s my position to judge these guys.
“In a lot of ways I get it, but my view is the same as a lot of people – `fine, lads, good luck, but don’t try to come back and play both sides.’”
‘We had an unbelievable team spirit’
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) September 29, 2014
Looking at Gleneagles now, McGinley marvels at how the Ryder Cup was run.
“You’ve a lot more appreciation of the work that goes in now,” he continued. “I was just thinking about all the infrastructure and how it was organised. How did they get 50,000 people a day in here so seamlessly?
“Also, that bonding that we had as a team. We had an unbelievable team spirit, everyone recognised that and could see that.
“We had a lot of fun as we always do, and I’d like to think we brought out the best of all previous Ryder Cups I’d been involved in.”
McGinley’s plan for victory was notoriously meticulous, but the players got a simple, direct message, he said.
“We highlighted the players. Made them the focal part of part of what I was doing as captain. I did a lot of deep thinking of what had worked and what hadn’t worked, took what worked and tried to make it better.
“We revved the players up, gave them a bit of structure, got them engaged in the heart, and stood back. When they got on the golf course I had nothing to do with it.
“Everyone says it was ‘no stone unturned’ and all that stuff. And yes, I was meticulous behind the scenes.
“But that doesn’t mean the players knew any of that. I did all of that and kept it from them. They knew only a tiny amount. It was simplicity, clarity and structure.
“They needed to understand their positions within the team, and what their roles were. `You are playing three times. You won’t be playing then but will be playing another time. And this is who your partner will be. Now go. Get yourself freed for that.’”
‘The fans were brilliant’
— Legends Tour (@euLegendsTour) July 20, 2022
Since Gleneagles, McGinley’s eloquence has won him a lucrative TV role with both US network NBC and Sky at home. As a result, his game even for the Seniors isn’t what it might be.
“If I make the cut it will be good,” he said. “I’ve played three rounds in the last two months, two of those were (in the JP McManus Pro-Am) at Adare.
“I’m shattered after last week (at The Open). I was working for NBC and Sky. I was walking up the 18th fairway at 11.45pm ever night.
“But I’ll show my appreciation to the fans this week for what they did back in 2014. We’re in the Home of Golf. And the fans were brilliant.
“It was such a happy occasion. A very happy occasion, certainly from a European perspective.”