McGinley: Seeing Luke will be tough
6:08pm Tuesday 2nd September 2014 in © Press Association 2014
European captain Paul McGinley is dreading his next meeting with Luke Donald after overlooking his former Ryder Cup team-mate for a wild card.
McGinley selected Stephen Gallacher, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood for the biennial contest against the United States from September 26-28, with Donald missing out despite his superb record in team golf.
The former world number one achieved a 7-1 record in two Walker Cup wins and has claimed 10 and a half points from 15 matches in four previous Ryder Cup appearances, all of which ended in a European victory.
The 36-year-old also partnered Paul Casey to World Cup glory in 2004 but has paid the price for an indifferent season, recording just one top-10 finish on the European Tour in 2014.
Donald's very first Ryder Cup match was with McGinley against Stewart Cink and Chris Riley on the opening morning in 2004, but McGinley refused to let emotion get in the way of his decision.
"There's bigger things in life than making a phone call regarding sport, but it was a very, very difficult thing for me to do because of my personal relationship with Luke, because we get on so well," said McGinley, who was also designated to "look after" Donald when he was vice-captain in 2010 and 2012.
"We've shared so many emotions together in extreme circumstances. There's a whole load of things that went on at Medinah two years ago that people aren't even aware of.
"His first Ryder Cup, he was so beset with nerves he didn't hit a shot for the first six holes, but he came through. At the 18th, he hit a two iron onto the green when we really needed it for a half point.
"When you have that kind of experience with somebody you never forget it. You bond with them. I have a very strong bond and feeling with Luke, and the next time I see him it's going to be very tough."
McGinley admitted that the PGA Centenary Course at Gleneagles does not favour a relatively short hitter like Donald, while adding that is was small glimpses of form from Westwood that made the difference.
"Ian Poulter has never really shown a huge amount of form going into Ryder Cups in the past so I wasn't that perturbed about seeing a lot of form from him," he added.
"The second easiest decision was Gallacher and the third one was the very difficult one between Lee, Luke and Francesco (Molinari). It was a very short head but ultimately that little flourish of form Lee showed around the US PGA time and Firestone was a flourish that Luke wasn't able to show and that's how close it came down to.
"There was some decent form after four missed cuts in a row. I asked him (Westwood) to show me some form and he stepped up to the plate and produced. Luke played very consistent but he didn't have those green shoots of real form that I saw from Lee."
Gallacher's selection means there will be three rookies on the team - Jamie Donaldson and Victor Dubuisson being the others - but McGinley believes the local favourite has shown he will be able to handle the pressure.
"That's the kind of pressure he was under in Italy, and he proved that he could do it," he added. "He's going to be able to handle Gleneagles. He is going to stand out there so proud when everybody is cheering him from his home country.
"I didn't do Stevie a favour - he did himself a favour," McGinley added. "He got on the team on merit. Everyone talks about the final round on Sunday, but for me Friday afternoon, when he started out 15 shots off the lead, that was when he showed me he really, really wanted to be a Ryder Cup player."
McGinley revealed he and vice-captains Des Smyth and Sam Torrance had played golf together on Monday before receiving a short presentation from their statisticians on the potential wild cards.
The trio then watched the final round from Boston before McGinley telephoned all the players on the world points list down to Westwood in 16th place, starting with Donald. That meant telling Miguel Angel Jimenez, Francesco Molinari and Joost Luiten they had also not been selected.
The 47-year-old Dubliner will name his remaining vice-captains in the next 48 hours but ruled out the possibility of Donald being one of them.
Donald later posted on Twitter: "Thanks for all the lovely messages, obviously gutted to not have made the team, but wish all the lads the very best #GoEurope."
Sergio Garcia, who won five of his six matches with Donald, told GolfChannel.com: " Obviously, I'm disappointed not to see Luke on the team, one of my partners and a good friend of mine, but it's so difficult.
"There were only three picks, and there were probably five or six guys who deserved to be on the team.
"I talked to Luke this morning, and he was obviously a little bit disappointed, but he understands that once you don't make the team yourself, and you depend on the captain for a pick, you never know what might come through.
"Unfortunately, if he would have played a little bit better the last two or three weeks, it is probably a different situation. I still think the team looks very good."