NEW YORK (Reuters) - Former European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley said on Thursday he thought recent changes the struggling United States side has made in their approach to the premier match play team event were “shrewd” moves.
A U.S. task force set up after the Americans were thrashed by 16-1/2 points to 11-1/2 by McGinley’s Europeans last year in Scotland gave more input to players and installed a system patterned after the European model to nurture future captains.
“I think it’s a shrewd move,” Irishman McGinley told Reuters after his address to the Leaders Sport Business Summit in New York.
“They (the U.S.) have lost eight of the last 10 Ryder Cups. If you’re a business and your profits keep going down, what you would do is step back, reassess everything. Put some new things in place.
“It’s the right thing to do,” he said and imagined a likely dialogue. “‘We’re obviously making some mistakes here. We’re not going to keep banging our head against the wall. These guys are doing it well, what can we learn from them?’”
McGinley said his own challenges as Ryder Cup captain were dealing with high expectations of being favorites, and allowing players to be individuals while at the same time bonding as a team.
The Irishman brought in fabled soccer manager Alex Ferguson, who had resounding success in charge of Manchester United from 1986–2013, as a sounding board in preparations to lead his 12-man team at Gleneagles.
McGinley gazed up at a photo of his jubilant players laughing, pointing skyward as they surrounded him as he held the cherished Ryder Cup, and said it gave him chills and reminded him of inspiring words from Ferguson.
He had told Ferguson one of his messages to his players at the Ryder Cup was that there would be a time and place for each man to take the lead.
“That reminds me of the story of the Canadian geese, who fly across the Atlantic in a vee shape,” Ferguson told McGinley. “Then they ‘quack, quack’ when the guy in front gets tired and he moves to the back.”
McGinley had Ferguson speak to the team early on in the Ryder Cup week at Gleneagles and heard him use the geese as a symbol.
“That resonated with a lot of the players,” the 2014 captain said.
“So there we are getting our picture taken surrounding the cup, and hundreds of photographers about to snap when Rory McIlroy says ‘Look, look above the clubhouse’.
“And there’s this perfect formation of geese in a vee flying right over the clubhouse,” said McGinley. “Gives me chills even now just thinking about it.”
Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes