GLENEAGLES Scotland (Reuters) - Captain Paul McGinley has saluted Alex Ferguson for his contribution to Europe’s triumphant Ryder Cup campaign, calling the former Manchester United manager a guiding light to him and his team.
The 72-year-old Scot, who ended a glittering 26-year spell at United when he retired from soccer 16 months ago, was a constant presence in the locker room as Europe beat the United States by 16-1/2 points to 11-1/2 on Sunday.
“My wife gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever had in my life in the 2002 Ryder Cup when I holed the winning putt,” McGinley told a news conference on Monday. “She said, ‘don’t drink too much, just enjoy these moments.
“Alex Ferguson came into the room last night and that’s exactly what he said as well. He said he felt like he was back in the boiler room, thank you for the pleasure.
“I bounced ideas off him all week, he didn’t preach to me, he didn’t tell me what to do but what he did solidified my ideas and he gave me confidence that my hunches were right,” McGinley added.
“He also felt that connection with the players. All the players treated him as a friend, having a drink with him, pulling his leg again. It was great to see.”
Ferguson, for his part, said on Sunday that he got more out of the Ryder Cup experience in his native Scotland than McGinley and his team.
“It was fantastic to be in their company,” he added. “Both sides are the best players in their countries and the whole of Europe.
“You saw the competition, the margins were so small — some of the putting was outstanding and that’s the measure of the quality of golfer we’re watching.”
McGinley said he was careful not to over-do the celebrations on Sunday night because he wanted to soak up every joyful moment.
“I went to bed at about half past two, three o’clock,” he explained. “I was one of the last to leave the team room — there were no players left.
“My vice-captain Des Smyth was the only other fellow in there. I think I just had a real sense of satisfaction and pride.
“It’s not internal though, it’s external... the pride and smiles we put on everybody’s faces, that sense of bonding we created with each other,” said McGinley, his voice cracking with emotion.
“Even in the stands, you saw people high-fiving each other and bear hugging and that’s what the Ryder Cup is all about — that passion, that sense of bonding and togetherness, it’s what makes it so special.”
McGinley received a plethora of text messages from people wanting to share his joy but one from former world number one Luke Donald was particularly special to him.
The Irishman said he found it especially difficult to leave Donald out of his team because he had developed a bond with the Englishman at past Ryder Cups.
“A text came in from Luke last night and that meant a lot,” added McGinley. “I had to make some really tough calls.
“The Luke Donald one still eats away at me, he’s a guy who was so supportive of me to be captain and has been a great Ryder Cup player over the years.
“I don’t want to break too many confidences but his text last night was just very respectful to me, the team and very regretful that he wasn’t part of it all,” he said.
“He was very disappointed he wasn’t here. He certainly wasn’t questioning of my decision but it was just nice, a big long text and I really appreciated it.”
Editing by John O'Brien