We are still some two months out from the Ryder Cup and Paul McGinley reckons European Ryder Cup Captain Thomas Bjorn should be rubbing his hands with glee.
Francesco Molinari’s victory in The Open not only broke an American stranglehold on the Majors, dating back to last year’s U.S. Open, but has given Bjorn three Major Champions in his top eight qualifiers.
“This is the best list of leading qualifiers I have seen in my lifetime of playing on the European Tour,” said McGinley on the eve of the Senior Open at St. Andrews.
“The inclusion of Molinari has the team in great shape with a lot of players in form which gives us a great chance of winning back the Ryder Cup on a golf course we have been playing since 2002.
“And the great thing about Molinari was not only his stunning success last week but his victories at the BMW PGA and more-recently winning the Quicken Loans.
“To also have finally broken the run of American players winning the Majors is also a huge boost for Europe plus all the team trophies the States has won, so the country has been a roll of victories for some time.
“As much as the European Team is good and we are playing at home, the Ryder Cup is not easily won, and while America will be strong, we could not be in better shape right now.”
McGinley, speaking from St Andrews on the eve of the Senior Open Championship, was 26 years old when he played this week’s Old Course host venue for a first time as a pro in 1993, representing Ireland in the three-man Alfred Dunhill Cup. He played in seven Dunhill Cup’s but only two Open Championships at the Home of Golf, in 2000 and 2005. McGinley also contested every Dunhill Links Championship event since the inaugural event in 2001 up to and including 2016, with a best finish of T9th in 2009.
“I first came here to St. Andrews in 1993, so I know the Old Course very well and it’s always great to tee-up on the Old Course,” he said.
“I represented Ireland for a first time in pro competition with David Feherty and Ronan Rafferty as partners and was a proud member of the Irish team for many years.
“In recent years I’ve teed-up in the Dunhill Links Championship so it’s always a thrill to come here to St. Andrews but then I wish I had a bit more mileage under my belt in terms of tournament play but then I have a lot of priorities at the moment though I still love to play.”
McGinley is contesting his second straight Senior Open and will tee-up at 9.10am alongside Welshman Phil Price and American Billy Andrade