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Paul McGinley to mirror Tom Watson with vice-captain picks

Updated: Wednesday, 06 Aug 2014 20:47 | Comments

Captains Tom Watson and Paul McGinley
Captains Tom Watson and Paul McGinley

European captain Paul McGinley will follow in the footsteps of opposite number Tom Watson when he names his remaining vice-captains for the Ryder Cup.

Watson named Steve Stricker as his third and final vice-captain today, the 47-year-old joining Andy North, 64, and 71-year-old Ray Floyd on the US captain's backroom staff.

McGinley has so far chosen Sam Torrance and Des Smyth as his assistants and will name the others once the European team is finalised at the end of August.

"It's a very strong appointment from Tom," McGinley said ahead of the US PGA Championship at Valhalla, where a shoulder injury means the Dubliner is restricted to commentating, rather than playing.

"I know Steve very well. Not only has he been a great golfer but he's been a great person, as well. I think he will complement very much what Tom has got in terms of Ray Floyd and Andy North in being a current player.

"It's something that I will be doing when I do appoint my vice-captains... those vice-captains will be current players."

The likes of Rory McIlroy, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Justin Rose, Martin Kaymer and Victor Dubuisson are guaranteed their place on the team for Gleneagles, but the remaining three places remain up for grabs.

Graeme McDowell moved into the automatic places by finishing joint eighth in the Bridgestone Invitational on Sunday, but the man who claimed the winning point at Celtic Manor in 2010 is just 1.98 points ahead of Jamie Donaldson.

"It's still all up for grabs. I know the players are not taking anything for granted" - Paul McGinley

Donaldson occupies the last automatic place but is less than one world ranking point clear of Luke Donald.

"There's two big events left in terms of ranking points from the European perspective," McGinley added.

"One is obviously this week but the first event in the FedEx Cup play-offs (The Barclays from August 21-24) also counts for world ranking points.

"There will be a lot of points available for that so the guys who are playing in that have a real advantage.

The last three events on the European Tour will have a factor, but the points available will not be as large.

"It's still all up for grabs. I know the players are not taking anything for granted. Thomas Bjorn, for example, really feels he still has to have some more good weeks, because he realizes the quality of players chasing him are so strong."

With Donald, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood all outside the qualifying places, McGinley might have to use all three of his wild cards on players who were part of the 2012 'Miracle at Medinah,' when Europe came from 10-6 down on the final day to win.

But the 47-year-old is not guaranteeing anyone a place based on their past performances.

"I certainly have not told Ian Poulter he's going to be a pick. He knows that," McGinley added.

"But with his pedigree and his background, of course he has got a great chance of being one, but he needs to keep showing form just like all the rest of the guys do.

"He's very close to the team. He's only one decent performance away from being automatic on the team. He's not a huge worry for me because his form has been quite good and he's amassed a huge amount of points."

McGinley's opposite number certainly seems to have a harder task, with Dustin Johnson ruling himself out while he deals with "personal challenges," and Jason Dufner and Tiger Woods battling injuries.

"I don't like that all these guys are showing up hurt or leaving the Tour for personal reasons," Stricker said.

"But we've got a lot of great players still in the mix. The team hasn't been set yet, but the guys just outside the points I know are excited to play and are trying to earn points this week.

"I know how deeply Tiger wants to be a part of this team and I think that's why he's here. He wants to show that he can play, that he's going to get healthy because he was on that last Ryder Cup team and we didn't get it done. There's a bunch of guys who want to try to get that cup back. It still stings."

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