Rory McIlroy has been publicly thanked for his role in landing Ireland a first Ryder Cup captain in Paul McGinley.

Dubliner McGinley will lead Europe against Tom Watson’s America in Scotland next year.

A former GAA star who turned to golf after a bad knee injury in his past, McGinley was McIlroy’s choice to lead the home team at Gleneagles.

The world number one came out publicly and forcibly in McGinley’s favor after a late bid to Scot Colin Montgomerie to land a second spell as captain.

McIlroy personally congratulated McGinley, vice-captain at Medinah last year, when the announcement was made in Abu Dhabi.

And Ireland’s first Ryder Cup captain was keen to thank the 23-year-old from County Down.

McGinley joked: “If Rory does not make the team I think he has got a good chance of a captain’s pick now!

“It’s a humbling experience and it’s a week I’m really looking forward to. I knew I had the support of the players - not just Rory.”

Paul Lawrie, Sandy Lyle and Spain’s Miguel Angel Jimenez were also in the frame after Darren Clarke withdrew from the running and also backed McGinley.

A Ryder Cup winner on the course in 2002, McGinley is relishing the chance to take on Watson next year.

He added: “I’m obviously absolutely thrilled and delighted to have this honour.

“I’m relishing the thought of taking on one of my great heroes. I think he’s a wonderful person and a great ambassador for the game of golf.

Nike’s new golf ambassador knows Watson has all the experience but said: “I don’t mind it being a

David and Goliath situation in terms of the captains. It’s won on the course, not on the stage.

“I have a very strong opinion about this. I really think Paul deserves it.

“He has been a great player and a great personality for the European Tour over the years. I also played under him at the Seve Trophy in 2009 and I thought he did a great job.

“From all the captains I’ve played under, I think he was the best.”
American captain and golf legend Watson was quick to congratulate McGinley.

The US captain said, “Paul McGinley is a class act. I anticipate that his passion and love of the event will transfer to being an outstanding leader of his team.

“Paul has been connected to winning European Ryder Cup teams and is an outstanding representative of European golf.

“I look forward to sharing the stage with him as we make our journey to Scotland.”

Rory McIlroyGoogle Images