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McGinley Opts For Experience

The announcement by Paul McGinley, the Europe captain in the forthcoming Ryder Cup, of Des Smyth and Sam Torrance as two of his vice captains was public confirmation of one of the worst-kept secrets in golf. It also was one of the more daring announcements McGinley has made in the 14 months since he was appointed leader of the home team at Gleneagles in September.
Smyth, who is Irish, and Torrance, a Scot, both played in the Ryder Cup, Smyth in 1979 and 1981 and Torrance in eight successive competitions starting in 1981. Both were born in 1953 and therefore are in their seventh decade. This makes them well on their way to being twice the age of any team member who is in his 30s and not that far short of being three times as old as Rory McIlroy, 24, and Victor Dubuisson, who is 23 and almost in the team already. Both Smyth and Torrance are good communicators but it is hard not to see these age differences as a potential problem.
Smyth, who was a vice captain in 2006, and Torrance, who was a vice captain in 1999 and captain in 2002, have competed or do compete on the European Senior Tour, which means they have had limited access to some of the men competing for a place in McGinley’s team. How valid will their contributions be to the final composition of the team, which McGinley will announce on Tuesday, Sept. 2? At that time he also will announce his reinforcements to his squad of vice captains. He has hinted all along there will be two more, four in all, but did not say so categorically last week.


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