LONDON (Reuters) - Tony Jacklin, the most decorated European Ryder Cup captain of all time, has urged Paul McGinley to go with his gut instincts when the Irishman leads the holders into battle against the U.S. at Gleneagles later this month.
Jacklin was an inspirational general between 1983-89, winning two and tying one of his four matches in charge as Europe ended a 28-year American stranglehold on the biennial team event.
“Be true to yourself, go with your hunches, that would be my advice to Paul,” the 70-year-old Englishman told Reuters in an interview ahead of the 40th Ryder Cup that will be staged in Scotland from Sept. 26-28.
“Don’t be afraid to rock the boat if that’s what you feel. You’ve got to keep tabs on everybody, be everyone’s best pal, but when you get a gut instinct on things you’ve got to have the courage to work on it.
“Paul is going to have lots of people advising him from the outside but at the end of the day the buck stops with him and it’s important he feels that whatever it is that he’s doing, he feels it’s 100 percent what he wants,” said Jacklin.
“It will be very important how he does the pairings for the fourballs and foursomes and then he must get his order right for the last-day singles.”
McGinley will be up against a golfing great when he pits his wits against eight-times major winner Tom Watson who will be in charge of the American team at Gleneagles.
Jacklin said the role of captain had altered a lot since his time in charge.
“It’s an ever-changing role,” added the winner of the 1969 British Open and 1970 U.S. Open. “In some respects it’s harder because you are dealing with multi-millionaire players who are used to doing what they want, when they want.
“You need to get the respect of your players and in the case of Paul and Tom I am sure the teams will be going all out to perform for their captains,” said the Florida-based Jacklin who is on a UK-wide theater tour until Oct. 16 (www.tonyjacklin.com/theatre-tour).
“The captain’s role is to take care of his boys during the week, almost molly-coddle them really, make their lives off the course as simple and straightforward as possible so that they can concentrate on the golf.
“At the same time the captain needs to understand the emotions of the players who will be going out every day into a pressure-cooker atmosphere. He needs to say the right things at the right time to inspire his players.”
There was an added edge to Jacklin’s second match as captain at The Belfry in 1985 because he was in the opposite corner to U.S. skipper Lee Trevino.
Trevino was a thorn in the Englishman’s side throughout his playing career, no more so than during the 1972 British Open at Muirfield when the player known as ‘Supermex’ made four chip-ins to deny the crowd favorite a home victory.
However, Jacklin did not look upon their captaincy tussle as a chance to gain revenge.
“Of course it was in the back of my mind at The Belfry but it wasn’t really the purpose of my job that week,” he explained.
“It was all about 12 American players we wanted to beat, it wasn’t a personal thing with Lee at all. He had been my nemesis in the early 70s but I quickly put that in perspective.
“It had been 28 years since we had won so it wasn’t about me at all, it was all about us winning as a team.”
Editing by Pritha Sarkar