Paul McGinley smiled when he heard official confirmation that Zach Johnson had been named as the US captain for the 2023 Ryder Cup in Italy. He smiled because “the US are copying us,” he said. “Their modus operandi is like ours. They have learned from us.”
McGinley was referring to the process Europe has established for would-be Ryder Cup captains. First they would be a vice captain or captain of a Seve Trophy or Eurasia Cup team to get the experience of leading a team. Then they would be a vice captain in a Ryder Cup before being put in charge of the team itself. “That was my progression and as long as I have been involved in the Ryder Cup that is the idea going forward,” McGinley said. “I captained a winning Eurasia team and a winning Seve Trophy team and to win those two team events put me in the front line for captaincy (in 2014) of a Ryder Cup team.”
“Zach has a lot of experience of golf. He is a very amiable guy. Everyone likes him. He will be good in Rome.”
Recognising a good idea when they saw it, the US have begun grooming their captains in the same way. Johnson played in the 2006, ’10, ’12, ’14 and ’16 Ryder Cups, was a vice captain of the 2018 team in Paris and at Whistling Straits in 2021 and was a vice captain of Tiger Woods’s 2019 Presidents Cup team.
“Zach has a lot of experience of golf,” McGinley said of the American who also won the Masters in 2007 and the Open Championship at St Andrews in 2015. “He is a very amiable guy. Everyone likes him. He will be good in Rome.” Whether Johnson will be able to lead the US to their first victory away from home since 1993 remains to be seen.
Golf’s Greatest Holes, a programme featuring holes on some of Ireland’s and Northern Ireland’s most famous courses hosted by McGinley and British sports broadcaster Chris Hollins, is to be shown on NBC Golf Pass on March 8. Filmed during lockdown, McGinley and Hollins played courses such as Royal County Down, Lahinch, Royal Portrush and Adare Manor.
“Tourism Ireland was delighted … to support Golf’s Greatest Holes,” said Niall Gibbons, chief executive of Tourism Ireland. “It will remind viewers that the island of Ireland offers golfers the complete package – with some of the very best golf in the world, stunning scenery and the warmest of welcomes. Our message is that Ireland is open for business and we cannot wait to welcome back our American visitors.”