LONDON (Reuters) - Former world number one Ian Woosnam is bemused by European Ryder Cup skipper Paul McGinley’s decision to opt for five vice-captains instead of the usual four and believes it could betray a sign of weakness.
McGinley raised a few eyebrows last week when he drafted in 2012 captain Jose Maria Olazabal, Padraig Harrington and Miguel Angel Jimenez to join Sam Torrance and Des Smyth as his deputies for the biennial team event at Gleneagles from Sept. 26-28.
”I honestly thought he was going to go for four vice-captains,“ Woosnam told Reuters in an interview. ”It took me a little bit by surprise when he went for five.
”I guess he’s trying to get a little bit of advice from everybody but sometimes you can get too much advice. At the end of the day he’s the one who has got to make the decisions.
”Is it a sign of weakness having that many? It does seem a lot. Maybe he’s trying to get as much experience as he possibly can, I don’t really know.
“He might need a bigger team room, he might as well have 12 vice-captains, one for each player,” joked Woosnam.
McGinley’s playing record, he has won four times on the European Tour, pales in comparison to United States counterpart Tom Watson who is one of golf’s true greats having collected eight major victories including five British Opens.
Woosnam, who was captain when a powerful European team romped to an 18 1/2-9 1/2 win over the United States at the K Club in Ireland in 2006, believes, however, that the 47-year-old Irishman has got what it takes to deliver Ryder Cup glory.
“Paul may have only won four tournaments but I think he’s going to be well respected by his players. He’s very professional,” said the 56-year-old Welshman.
“If you put it in football terms, you don’t always have to be the best player to be the best captain. Not at all.”
McGinley will have four of the world’s top five players in his 12-strong team in Scotland - Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson and Justin Rose - but Woosnam said no-one should underestimate a U.S. side led by Watson.
”The American team is very well balanced and with Tom running that team, he’s not going to take any nonsense,“ he explained. ”If Tom Watson talks, you listen - if you don’t there must be something wrong with you.
”He doesn’t like losing, he’s got a great mind, he’s a very intelligent guy and he’ll be working it all out. This is not going to be the walkover everyone thinks it’s going to be.
”Tom’s going to have more authority in that team room. He’s going to say, ‘I‘m the captain and you’ve got to do what I say.
“All the players will have respect for him as captain. He’s going to demand respect.”
Woosnam, who spent 50 weeks on top of the world rankings between April 1991 and March 1992, is thrilled that fellow countryman Jamie Donaldson will be making his debut for holders Europe later this month.
”It’s fantastic to have another Welshman in the team,“ said the 1991 U.S. Masters champion. ”Jamie’s got a great putting stroke, he’s got a lot of bottle and I think he’s going to be a tremendous addition.
“He could play with anyone in the team and I can’t see any faults in his game really,” added Woosnam, who claimed 29 victories on the European Tour.
Donaldson, 38, was regarded as a journeyman professional until he elevated his status by winning the 2013 Abu Dhabi Championship, a tournament that featured the likes of Tiger Woods, McIlroy and Rose.
"I don't know Jamie very well but I played with him three or four years ago in an event in Barbados," said Woosnam who is an ambassador for sports bookmaker Betway (betway.com).
“I didn’t see him as a potential Ryder Cup player back then but he’s come on in leaps and bounds and is now a really solid player.”
Editing by Toby Davis