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.