Paul McGinley has insisted that he will have no qualms about pairing Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell together if it improves Europe’s chances of winning this week’s Ryder Cup.
The Northern Irishmen have played together six times in the last two matches – at Celtic Manor in 2010 and Medinah two years ago – but, with their friendship strained by off-course legal wranglings, there have been suggestions they might be kept apart at Gleneagles this week.
European captain Paul McGinley refused to rule out the possibility of not playing them together but insisted that, if he did, it would have nothing to do with any reported bad blood between the pair.
“I’ve got lots of options with them,” said Paul McGinley. “If I don’t decide to play them, it would be for tactical reasons. It won’t be for any other reasons.
“They have played six Ryder Cup matches together and have won only two. It’s not like these guys are written in stone. They are not a formidable pairing that’s unbeatable.
“Having said that, there’s no reason why they wouldn’t play together. When I was captain of the Seve Trophy team, I had them paired together and they played very well in that. So I’ve got lots of options with them but it doesn’t have to be that they have to be together.”
"Both of them have assured me all along that there’s no issues, and that the way I’ve always seen it," - European captain Paul McGinley
McGinley added that he had spoken to both players and had been reassured by them that they harbour no ill-will towards one another over McIlroy’s lawsuit against Horizon, his former management firm, which also represents McDowell.
“Both of them have assured me all along that there’s no issues, and that the way I’ve always seen it,” said the Euro skipper, who famously sank the winning putt in the 2002 Ryder Cup at The Belfry.
“Whether they come together or not is another story. Three or four months ago, I had a very strong view that they would have been but the more I look at their statistics and the more I look at the different value I have with them, I’m thinking there may be a value in not doing it. If I don’t do it, it certainly won’t be because of any issues. As both of them have said, there are no issues between them and both of them will be happy to play together but it will be my decision ultimately.”
Read more: If you're heading to Gleneagles this week, check out our guide for spectators
Paul McGinley infuses Torrance legacy
The last thing the European players will see before leaving the team room this week will be a message from the late Bob Torrance. Paul McGinley has put a message from his former coach in the room to help fire up his players. The skipper said: “As we walked to the tee from the range, Bob would shake your hand and say, ‘Happiest days of your lives’. And that’s the quote, that’s the last thing they will see as they leave the locker room.”