Ryder Cup countdown underway, says McGinley
Cork: European Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley believes that despite Martin Kaymer`s convincing US Open success, honours in last week`s championship were equally shared among the potential European and US team members for Gleneagle.
Kaymer`s eight-shot Pinehurst triumph saw the 29-year old German move from ninth, and last among the leading automatic European qualifiers, to sixth and the assurance of a third straight European cap.
But while the now double major winning Kaymer cemented his place in McGinley`s side, there were also three Americans inside the top-10 who strengthened a grip on qualifying automatically for Tom Watson`s USA Team.
They included Rickie Fowler, who was tied second and is now seventh on the Ryder Cup points table, Dustin Johnson, joint fourth at Pinehurst and up to third on the points table, while Jimmy Walker who shared ninth place behind Kaymer remains second on the USA team table.
"I was very impressed like everyone with Martin`s US Open victory," said McGinley.
"To lead after the first round, and then to extend his lead to a bigger margin by the time the fourth round came was very impressive, because in my view the US Open is the toughest tournament to win.
"Martin`s win is great for the European Team, great for the European Tour as it certainly creates a buzz around the Tour.
"But also, looking at the results, I think the Americans, and Tom Watson will be sitting back happy with the US Open from his perspective, as well, too.
"There was a lot of his potential team who featured very strongly with top-10s, top-15s, and his team seems to be taking shape, as well.
"So it was also a very strong US Open showing from both teams.
"Indeed three other Americans were inside the top-20 including Matt Kuchar, who shared 12th place and is fourth on the USA points table, while Jim Furyk, who was also in 12th place is lying sixth on Watson`s perspective team and likely Ryder Cup rookie Jordan Spieth finished T17th at Pinehurst to be fifth on the points table.
McGinley was speaking ahead of this week`s Irish Open that is returning to the Fota Island Golf Club in Cork after an absence of 12 years.
And in the absence of Kaymer, who will return to competition at next week`s BMW International Open close to his home town of Dusseldorf, most interest this week will focus on the fellow US Open winning Irish-born duo of Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell.
McIlroy`s first visit to Ireland`s second largest city has been spoilt by his golf clubs going astray en route from the United States to Ireland.
And with now 100 days to the commencement of the Ryder Cup, McGinley says the pressure continues to intensify as he seeks to keep the golden trophy in European hands for a third occasion in succession.
"It`s exciting with 100 days to go, and the countdown has started," he said.
"There`s pressure there, of course. There`s huge expectation. There`s huge pressure, and there`s huge responsibilities as captain and there`s a lot of important days ahead."
McGinley indicated also he will not announce his remaining two vice-captains until after his 12-man team is confirmed on September 2 when both he and Watson will each announce their `wildcard` picks.
And while McGinley has already chosen 2002 victorious Captain Sam Torrance and fellow Irishman Des Smyth as two of his vice-captains, he stressed he`s under no obligation to pick a vice-captain who could then replace McGinley as European Captain in 2016.
"I don`t feel there`s an obligation to pick two vice-captains who could be seen as future Ryder Cup captains, but then I want to see who makes the 12 before I look at where I go," he said.
"But safe to say, the likely two will be current players that are still playing on the Tour, and I can assure you, the remaining vice-captains being announced will still be competitive on Tour."