Paul McGinley, Europe's Ryder Cup captain, last night revealed that his decision to appoint Sam Torrance and Des Smyth as his first two vice-captains for this September's match at Gleneagles had been made more than a year ago.
Torrance, the eight-time Ryder Cup player who captained Europe to victory in 2002, and the Irish veteran Smyth, an assistant to Ian Woosnam at the K Club in 2006, were officially named as part of McGinley's backroom team in Dublin yesterday.
Speculation that Torrance would be given the nod had been growing ever since McGinley gave him the Great Britain & Ireland captaincy for the Seve Trophy last season. Smyth, meanwhile, was given a vice-captain's post for this month's EurAsia Cup and that appointment led to McGinley bringing his Ryder Cup announcement forward, having first declared his intention to name his assistants during May's BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.
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McGinley said: "When I got the job in January [in 2013] I quickly formed ideas about my backroom team, and I decided that these two guys would be part of the backroom team and I discussed it with both of them last February.
"Obviously having Sam as part of the Seve Trophy was part of the equation, but what pre-empted me to move it forward was the evolution of the EurAsia Cup.
"Miguel Angel Jimenez is the captain. I had long discussions with Miguel about that, and I had discussions about his vice- captaincy, so as Des was going to be involved this was a perfect opportunity for him to get the same experience as Sam had at the Seve Trophy and get involved with the players again."
McGinley was quick to emphasise that he will not make any further announcements on vice-captains until after the 12-man team is finalised on September 2. The Dubliner is likely to add another two more members to his backroom set-up but some possible candidates for such a role, like Thomas Bjorn and Jimenez, are very much in the race to qualify for the team itself while Paul Lawrie could also be considered.
McGinley added: "I want everybody to focus on their golf over the next seven months. There are probably 15 guys who will be very good as vice-captains. This is about formulating the best team. If I'm going to have another two vice-captains they will be players who are still playing on tour."