Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...
PAUL McGINLEY felt the love of players and fans alike on his first full day as Europe’s new Ryder Cup captain. And it did not take long for him to be reminded of the size and scope of the job he was taking on, as messages of congratulations came in from around the world. Closer to home or rather closer to him in Abu Dhabi came words of support from Colin Montgomerie, the 2010 captain who in the final days before the decision was taken had become his biggest rival for the task of taking on Tom Watson’s America at Gleneagles next year. “We’ll all get behind Paul now we wish him well,” said Montgomerie, who thinks the only chance of him captaining the side again after this is if “I do a Tom Watson” and is called upon in his sixties after a string of defeats. The same words kept coming up from all those delighted by 46-year-old McGinley becoming the first Irish captain in the history of the event. Graeme McDowell, the 2010 match-winner, said most of them in his message “thoughtful, articulate, prepared, motivated, fair and respected”. So prepared, in fact, that McGinley had even thought about how best to react if he had been informed he had not been appointed. “I had notes in my pocket about how I was going to project myself and what I was going to do,” said the man whose 10-foot putt at the Belfry won the 2002 contest and who has never lost in nine Ryder Cup or Seve Trophy matches as a player, vice-captain or captain. “I assured George and Richard (European Tour chief executive George O’Grady and Ryder Cup director Richard Hills) that I would act with integrity expected by the tour. “If it wasn’t going to be, despite the players’ support (most importantly and most vocally that of Rory McIlroy), I would wish the winner the best of luck and leave it at that knowing that it was probably my last opportunity. “I don’t think I was going to be captain in two years’ time.” McGinley does not attempt to disguise the fact that he does not come remotely close to Watson in what they have achieved. The 63-year-old American has twice as many majors eight, including five Opens, four of them in Scotland as the Dubliner has tournament wins. Even McIlroy calls it a “David and Goliath” situation, but McGinley agreed with the way Padraig Harrington put it. “Why try to compete against Tom Watson? We don’t have anybody of that stature the only man who could compete against Watson is unfortunately no longer with us and that’s Seve (Ballesteros).” Last year’s triumphant captain Jose Maria Olazabal unsurprisingly and understandably played the Seve card to the full last September in the first match to be played since the 1997 captain lost his battle with a brain tumour at the age of only 54. McGinley has vowed to keep the memory alive it could well be blue sweaters on the final day again but also wants a Scottish flavour to the week. Do not expect that to include the team playing in kilts, however. He is a big Celtic fan, but insists he wants to unite rather than divide a nation hosting the Ryder Cup for the first time since 1973. On taking on Watson, he states: “I’m relishing the opportunity of going against my boyhood hero. “He is a guy that I really respect. He is a hard man and a fair man.” Two weeks after the “Miracle of Medinah”, when Europe came down from 10-4 down to keep the cup thanks to Martin Kaymer’s six-foot putt, one newspaper reported that Darren Clarke had won the race to take over from Olazabal. McGinley did not despair. “I was surprised, but I knew it wasn’t true. “I’m on that committee and no one had contacted me. Last time it was quite clear it was going to be Ollie, but Thomas (chairman Thomas Bjorn) still had to call every person on that committee to get their authority before he could release the news. “I had not received a phone call, so I knew it wasn’t the case.” Rather than coming out fighting with his own claims to the job, however, McGinley, with advice from wife Alison and friends, decided to hold his tongue. McIlroy and others did the talking for him instead and it paid off. Clarke eventually decided not even to make himself available for selection, but instead along came Montgomerie. Again, McGinley was surprised. “He said quite clearly (after the 2010 victory) that he was not going to go again,” he said. “Having said that, he was totally within his rights to change his mind. I had no problem with it. “He said some really nice things to me in the corridor when the decision was made. I know he will be very supportive of me and the European team.”
Paul McGinley won’t put pressure on prospective wildcard picks or vice-captains for his Ryder Cup team at Gleneagles but made clear he still sees Paul Lawrie as a candidate for both. The Irishman, who will lead Europe at Gleneagles this September, was a guest of the 1999 Open champion at his golf centre on the outskirts of Aberdeen on Monday for the second annual Paul Lawrie Foundation Challenge but gave encouragement to his host. Lawrie himself stressed he “hadn’t played nearly well enough” to be considered for the European team he featured in in 1999 and 2012. “I’m not giving up, I’m a professional and the Scottish Open and Open are two of the biggest weeks we have,” said Lawrie as he rounded off preparations for the Scottish this week at his home club, Royal Aberdeen. “It’s my job now to try and knock off some form, get going before the end of qualifying and give Paul a bit of a headache.” McGinley has faith in his friend, with whom he has already shared counsel about Ryder Cup issues since his appointment as captain last year. “Absolutely it’s possible,” he said. “Automatically (qualifying) is difficult but I’ve got three picks and Paul is obviously an option. “Coming into form late is never a problem and it certainly won’t be a headache if he wins the Open again, I can tell you that. That would be a good thing for us. “Paul’s pedigree is there, he just has to show some form. His window is closing, we all know that, and he’s got these two big weeks now. Without putting pressure on him, I wish him the best of luck.” McGinley has his eye on Stephen Gallacher as well for his team but feels it is unfair to single out any candidate. “We’re now looking at two majors, a WGC event and the Scottish Open, and they will determine whether Stephen, and indeed a whole host of other guys, get in the team,” he continued. “Obviously if Stephen gets a big cheque in one of those he could propel himself into the qualifying spots but I don’t want to put pressure on anyone, him or anyone else. “I know how difficult it is to make the team for the first time, especially in your own country. I remember myself qualifying in Ireland in 2006, that was a fraught time for everyone.” The same goes for his two extra vice-captain choices, although Lawrie would be a real candidate for that if he didn’t make the playing squad, he agreed. “Paul’s won around Gleneagles, he knows it very well, so of course he’s a brain I would pick,” he said. “There’s about 20 guys who would be good vice-captains, and obviously Paul is very strongly one of those. “I want things to evolve, and I’d rather they all focused 100% on making the team rather than being vice-captain.” Around 1,000 people turned up to watch the match between the two Pauls over the Paul Lawrie Golf Centre’s nine-hole practice course, with the guest winning by three shots. “I’m here because Paul asked me but also because I want to pick up a few ideas for my own foundation; I have an academy of my own but not on the scale that Paul has established here,” said McGinley. “Paul’s foundation is one of the strongest, if not the strongest, we have in Europe, it’s a real flagship on this side of the Atlantic, in the way he brings people and sponsors to it as well, working with those business relationships he’s formed over the years. “I know he’s involved with elite players as well, nurturing the next wave of talent, which is great to see. I think both of us wish we were 20 again knowing all we know now about golf and life travelling the world, and it’s great to pass that experience on.” Lawrie, meanwhile, is enthused about the Scottish Open on his home course, in his home town. “I was up at Royal Aberdeen yesterday hitting some balls and doing some putting, and it’s just in fabulous shape,” he said. “To see the stands and the tents, it just looks like it’s going to be a massive, massive event. It’s surprising we haven’t had a main tour event in the city before but I can’t wait for this.” The final invitations for the championship were revealed yesterday, with three more Scots added to the field to bring the native representation this week to 16. Lawrie’s protg David Law, who has won three times as a pro and won the Scottish Boys Championship at Royal Aberdeen, Scott Henry and twice tour winner Alastair Forsyth were given invitations, as well as the newly professional US Amateur champion Matthew Fitzpatrick. Jamie McLeary, the former Fife-based pro who qualified for the Open Championship last week, has also come into the field in the past week.
After all the intrigue, jockeying and talk, the man who kept his mouth shut ended up as Ryder Cup captain. Paul McGinley played the quiet man and was the unanimous choice apparently of the European Tour Players Tournament Committee to skipper Europe at Gleneagles next year. He is the first Irishman to be given the honour. The 46-year-old Dubliner was the long-time favourite for the Gleneagles job but faced late challenges from fellow Irishman Darren Clarke and Scotland’s Colin Montgomerie, captain of the winning European team at Celtic Manor in 2010. Clarke withdrew last week, and was part of the remaining committee in Abu Dhabi last night that agreed McGinley as captain. Montgomerie also had left the meeting prior to the discussion, which committee chairman Thomas Bjorn said concentrated on five candidates, including two other Scots in Sandy Lyle and Paul Lawrie. However, it was clear that the public intervention, mostly on Twitter, by senior players including World No 1 Rory McIlroy, Medinah hero Ian Poulter and others in vocal support of McGinley had convinced the 10 eligible voters left on the committee. It eventually took only an hour’s discussion “pretty short compared to other captaincy decisions” according to Bjorn before McGinley was summoned back to the committee room to be told he had the job. “Absolutely thrilled and delighted,” said McGinley. “This is arguably the strongest-depth European Tour we’ve had in history and to be leading the cream of the crop is a huge honour. “To lead Europe in Scotland at Gleneagles against one of my heroes in Tom Watson is very humbling.” McGinley said he had purposefully not entered the at times frenzied debate about the captaincy in the build up. “I knew I had the support of the players,” he said. “I felt the less I would say the better my chances were,” said McGinley. “We had the situation of Rory speaking for me with such authority. Ian Poulter was extremely strong for me. Luke Donald and Justin Rose and so many players came out totally umprompted on my side. “I wanted to ensure the dignity and esteem of the position so I felt it better not to enter the debate. And when I felt I had (those guys) behind me, I didn’t need to speak.” McGinley paid tribute to Montgomerie among the captains he’d served under in three Cups as a player and two more as a vice-captain he has never lost while playing or in the back-up staff saying he would take “a little from everyone”. “I’ve been blessed to play under a who’s who in the history of European golf: Seve, Sam Torrance, Bernhard Langer, Monty and Jose Maria (Olazabal) and one of the things I intend to do is continue the Seve legacy,” he added. There will also be a clear Scottish theme to his captaincy, he promised. He added he was “relishing” the chance to take on Watson, “one of my great heroes”. “Tom is a wonderful person and a great ambassador for the game of golf, has been for a long, long time,” he continued. “To have an opportunity to compete against him in a captaincy sense will be a real thrill for me.” Bjorn said five names had been “thoroughly” discussed at the committee meeting Lyle, Montgomerie, Lawrie, Miguel Angel Jimenez and McGinley but it had been “very obvious” early on in which direction they were headed. “We listened to our players who we represent and made the right decision, Paul’s a captain who will bring the Tour together,” he said. “It’s never an easy choice to make but we had to choose one and we think we chose the right one. “It never got to a show of hands. I thought it would have taken longer than it did. Everyone contributed before the decision was made.” Bjorn added that there are no plans to introduce a rule stipulating that captaincy of the European team be a one-time opportunity. “The general feel on the committee is that you have one go at it, but we don’t feel the need to tie our hands in the future. “We don’t feel the need to go down that route when at the moment we have so many candidates. “We’re hugely successful in the Ryder Cup and why should we change a winning formula?” Tour executive director George O’Grady praised the decision as an example of the democracy of the tour, but said that the process of selecting a captain would be looked at after the media frenzy this time around. “There has been much speculation, but that might have been a good thing for the tour,” he suggested.
As Jose Maria Olazabal used the memory of Seve Ballesteros to inspire Europe at Medinah, Paul McGinley has used that of a recently-lost Scottish legend for his Ryder Cup team at Gleneagles this week. A former pupil of the late Bob Torrance, who died in July after a long battle with cancer, the Irishman has used one of the great coach’s favourite sayings as the last thing the players see as they leave the European team room in the Gleneagles Dormy House. With Bob’s son Sam as a vice-captain, his greatest pupil Padraig Harrington as another and another pupil, Stephen Gallacher, on the team, there could hardly be a more emotional message to Europe. “It’s just one of Bob’s simple messages,” said McGinley. “When you finished your work on the range and headed to the first tee, he would always shake your hand and say: ‘Happiest days of your life’. “It’s the last thing the guys will see as they leave the locker room.” New father Graeme McDowell was the last European team member to clock in at Gleneagles on Monday and McGinley now has three days to put together what he believes to be the best formation to get Europe off to a flying start. “I’ve got a pretty good idea of what way we’re going to go on Friday, just getting a bit of feedback as to where they actually are now,” he said. “It’s like racehorses at Cheltenham, seeing them arrive, wondering how they travelled, are they OK, are they back on it, have they got the pace of the ground.” Rory McIlroy is well rested, despite a busy week off course last week, added McGinley. He also reiterated his point last week that the legal disagreement going through the Irish courts involving McIlroy and McDowell was not an issue and if they did not play together that would not be the reason. “Whether they will play together is another story,” he said. McGinley is also happy with the state of his rookies, particularly home hero Stephen Gallacher, who missed the cut in his final tune-up at the Wales Open last week. “Stevie’s had a tough three weeks,” he said. “I know what it’s like making your first team and particularly when it’s in your home country. “Everywhere he looked, he saw billboards of himself, his mind was all over the place. “He didn’t know the procedures and how many tickets he had and then in the middle of it all his grandmother died, who he was pretty close to. “But I had dinner with him last week and he was very buoyant. He had a bad round on Thursday in Wales but a good one on Friday. “I called him and told him to keep quiet at home, stay around his family and don’t go into public appearances or stuff like that. “He’s here now and getting his feet under the table. He’ll be fine and a great addition to our team.”
Padraig Harrington has described Europe’s new Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley as having “a little guy syndrome” and cannot wait to see that side of his fellow Dubliner’s character come out next year. McGinley will take charge of the European team as they aim to retain the title in Gleneagles and Harrington, who will make his debut in the Waste Management Open in Phoenix today, is already looking forward to the occasion. “He’s a little fella and he likes to fight,” said Harrington. “He really has that little bit from his (Gaelic) football days. “He’s got it inside him and will lead the team well in that respect, as well as being organised “I’ve known him for a long time and it’s going to be fantastic having him as captain, but it would be fantastic to be in the Ryder Cup no matter who was captaining the team. “Professional golf is one of the most selfish games that you can play. It’s an individual sport and it’s all about managing ourselves, but Paul McGinley loves teams. “He’s probably sacrificed the last three years of his playing career and the next 18 months for the Ryder Cup.”
Paul Lawrie expressed his disappointment at not being involved in the Ryder Cup at Gleneagles as skipper Paul McGinley opted to recall his predecessor Jose Maria Olazabal to his backroom team. The captain of the team that produced the Miracle at Medinah two years ago has agreed to assist McGinley, as the Irishman did for the Spaniard in Chicago. As expected, active players Miguel Angel Jimenez and Padraig Harrington both future captaincy candidates also join the already appointed veterans Des Smyth and Sam Torrance. Lawrie was tipped as a possible choice for McGinley with the cup being staged at Gleneagles, where the Scot has won before, but instead the Aberdonian will have no role at the matches. “I’m extremely disappointed not to be involved at Gleneagles,” he said. “I’ve known for some time my game wasn’t up to playing, but thought I might have been involved in the back room team. I would like to wish everyone the best of luck and obviously hope Europe do the business again.” Lawrie’s disappointment was tempered by his pleasure at seeing his close friend Stephen Gallacher selected. “I got a text back from Stevie G when I sent him my congratulations on making the team to ask if he could pick my brains some time in next two weeks, which of course would be a pleasure,” he said. “I’m so happy for Stevie to have made it, he’s clearly always had the talent.” McGinley wanted a five-man back-up team to cover all matches and with the “additional workload” required for a home match. “I am delighted to name Padraig, Miguel and Jos Mara, they will all bring valuable insight and experience to the players and the team room,” said the captain.
It's probably a sign of the reverence in which two grandees of European golf, Sam Torrance and Jose Maria Olazabal, are held that their appointment as captains for the next Seve Trophy has pretty much been accepted without challenge. Torrance will lead the Brits, and Olazabal the continental Europeans at the next playing of the event in a few weeks’ time. The implication is that both will be assistants for McGinley at next year’s Ryder Cup, as what would be the point otherwise? It’s all a bit short-termism for my liking though, and that’s something I wouldn’t have expected from McGinley. One of the main reasons he got the top job for Gleneagles (other than being the chosen one of the boy who could do no wrong at the time, Rory McIlroy) was the aptitude for leadership he displayed in the Seve Trophy, guiding GB&I to two wins. If he hadn’t been given that opportunity to show he could be the top man, rather than just a capable backroom boy, it would have been hard to see him win the vote for 2014. It’s ironic that McGinley of all people has denied two other potential future captains that very same chance of serving an apprenticeship. The appeal of the Seve Trophy is as a breeding ground for future Ryder Cup players and captains. It certainly doesn’t do much for the established players, who routinely hand in notes from their mother to get out of it. And as a contest, it’s not been competitive for a decade. Darren Clarke is the favourite to be McGinley’s Ryder Cup successor in 2016. Yet when the new slim-line selectors’ committee convenes to decide whether to pick him, they will have to make a leap of faith in doing so. They and he won’t have any evidence that he’s suited to the role. Nor will he have had the chance to learn from mistakes that would undoubtedly be made in a first go at captaincy. The same goes for Miguel Angel Jimenez and Paul Lawrie. Only Thomas Bjorn out of the four front-runners for Hazeltine has a Seve Trophy captaincy on his CV (and that was a resounding defeat). The captains in Paris should be Clarke and Jimenez. I’m sure that foregoing it as a player wouldn’t be too much of a sacrifice for the Spaniard, while Clarke isn’t likely to make the team. McGinley the Ryder Cup captain may glean some worthwhile knowledge at St-Nom-La Bretche Golf Club about potential players in 2014, but McGinley the Ryder Cup selector will glean absolutely nothing about potential captains in 2016.
Despite the months of detailed preparation bringing a resounding Ryder Cup victory, outgoing European captain Paul McGinley was still insisting he was “lucky” as he left Gleneagles on Monday. McGinley cheerfully admitted to a “disturbing” level of detail in his plan for the European team that routed the USA 16 to 11 on the PGA Centenary Course, conceding he might have gone too far in getting blue and gold fish for the team-room fishtank. But while he also defended his rival captain Tom Watson after Phil Mickelson’s public attack on the American tactics at Gleneagles, McGinley badly wanted to share the euphoria around the whole continent. “My feeling right now is the same as it was when I holed the winning putt in 2002,” he said. “From the bottom of Italy to the top of Sweden, from the west of Ireland right across to Turkey, this is for everyone in Europe.” Luck played a big part, he insisted, despite the incredible detail of his plans even tweaking pairings at European Tour events to get possible partners playing together without their knowledge. “I had a plan in place and strategies and I feel lucky to have had 12 players like that to execute it,” he said. “We were lucky to come out of the foursomes sessions 7-1. Why that happened, I don’t know. I was lucky to have every guy on the team arriving here moving forward. “I was incredibly lucky to inherit such a great team, to have four of the top five players in the world in my team. What European captain has ever had that? “I was lucky to have guys like Jamie Donaldson and Stevie Gallacher racing to the line at the end in qualification. “Everybody on that team came in moving forward.” But while often typecast as being over-reliant on statistics and having a cast of thousands on his backroom team, the Irishman was proved right on all counts. “I had a stats team helping me formulate my plan, but all I wanted was statistical evidence to back up my instincts,” he explained. “I bounced ideas off Sir Alex Ferguson, but he didn’t preach to me or tell me what to do, but he solidified my own ideas and gave me the confidence to believe that my instincts were right. “I got some things wrong. Stevie Gallacher’s first game, I wished I had more time to get Ian Poulter ready for the role of being his partner, the way I’d got Lee (Westwood) ready for Jamie Donaldson and Graeme (McDowell) ready for Victor Dubuisson.” As for Watson, his respect is undiminished, and he subtly made a comparison between the actions of his senior players and the American captain’s chief detractor. “There’s no tougher competitor in golf than Tom Watson,” he continued. “He’s incredibly disappointed, but he’s still got that smile, that steely grin this morning. “He’s a man I’ve always respected and in the last two years I respect him even more. I feel very privileged to have been on this journey with a man who has been a great hero of mine throughout my life that was a win/win situation for me.”
Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley has put back the announcement of his wild cards for next year’s contest at Gleneagles by 24 hours due to a clash with a FedEx Cup event in the United States. McGinley had originally planned to name his three picks on Monday, September 2, the day after the final qualifying event the Italian Open finishes. However, he will now do so a day later after it was pointed out to the Dubliner last month that the Deutsche Bank Championship, the second of the four FedEx Cup play-off events in which many of his team are likely to be playing, is due to finish on the Monday. Although qualifying from the World Points List will already have ended, it was reminiscent of the situation four years ago when Justin Rose and Paul Casey were told they had not been selected by Colin Montgomerie ahead of the final round of a tournament they were trying to win. “With no actual qualification points counting in the Deutsche Bank Championship, I was initially prepared to make my wild card announcement on the Monday the day after the final counting event, the 2014 Italian Open,” McGinley said. “But I have had a rethink and I now want to delay 24 hours as I realise that some potential members of the team might well be playing in Boston that week. “Realistically, I think it will have minimal effect, but out of respect for any players involved, I want to allow them to finish that tournament before I call them with news, one way or another.” The decision means both teams will announce their wild cards on the same day, with American captain Tom Watson revealing his three selections at a venue yet to be announced. McGinley will reveal his choices at Wentworth, which was also the venue when Gleneagles was named as the host venue in 2001.