Mighty Mac: Paul McGinley
Already firmly established as one of Ireland’s most distinguished golfers, Paul McGinley will make history next year when he becomes the first Irish captain at the Ryder Cup, a competition that he has treasured dearly.
McGinley was one of a number of high-profile golfers that failed to make the cut for the Irish Open last weekend, but his attentions are very much on next year’s Ryder Cup in Gleneagles, which will represent the pinnacle of a professional career that began back in 1991.
A keen GAA player in his youth, McGinley focused his attentions on golf after a knee injury and was soon garnering attention at amateur level, winning a number of tournaments before being selected for the 1991 Britain & Ireland Walker Cup team that lost to a strong American side that featured a certain Phil Mickelson.
Later that year he turned professional and lost a couple of play-offs in his search for his first European win, before landing that treasured first victory at the Austrian Open of 1996.
The new found success continued in 1997 when he, along with fellow Dubliner Padraig Harrington won the World Cup of Golf, truly announcing himself on the international stage.
In total McGinley has nine professional wins including winning the Irish PGA four times and his best placing in a Major is a tie for sixth at the 2004 PGA Championship, a year before he finished a career-best third in the European Order of Merit. He has also been ranked in the top 20 on occasions, but he has saved his biggest moments for the Ryder Cup.
McGinley made a winning start to his Ryder Cup career in 2002 at the Belfry and will go down in folklore for holing a 10-foot putt on the 18th hole in his match against Jim Furyk. Indeed the Dubliner was something of a lucky charm as he was successful on his first three appearances. The third and final appearance in 2006 saw him finish with a credible 50 per cent record with 4.5 points from nine games.
A vice-captain at the last two Ryder Cups he was a highly influential member of the squad that saw Europe claw back what appeared to be an insurmountable lead to snatch a dramatic victory last time out at Medinah.
After much speculation, he was the popular choice to lead the European challenge to Scotland next year and has been methodically plotting for the showpiece event next year. With five Ryder Cup victories and not a single loss to his name, it is a run he will be looking to continue.
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