The most revealing part of Paul McGinley’s announcement of three captain’s selections during a Tuesday news conference wasn’t the names themselves. It was how he presented them.
The European captain recited the nine players who had automatically qualified for this year’s roster, then matter-of-factly followed the last of those names by stating, “… will be joined by Stephen Gallacher, Ian Poulter and Lee Westwood.”
There was no pomp and circumstance. No breathless listing of previous accomplishments. And most telling, no insinuation that these three wild-card picks were any different than their teammates.
Now that they were part of the team, they were equals.
That might not sound like much – especially when two of the three (Poulter and Westwood) are veteran Ryder Cup players who will seamlessly assimilate into the team room – but it does speak volumes about how McGinley already views his players.
It doesn’t matter how they got there. They’re all in it together now.
Connecting the dots, we can contend that this has been the European mentality for decades – less about the player than the team. Connecting them further, we can insist that it’s this very mentality which has led to a 5-1 record this century.
The connections stop there, as the team-first mentality won’t necessarily mean Europe will again retain the title in three weeks, but it certainly won’t hurt, either.
“I think we have three players that will add a lot to the nine already qualified,” McGinley said upon making his announcement, “and make the European team as strong as it needs to be to take on the might of America.”
It’s a subtle business, this strategy of stressing team inclusion over individual accomplishment. As someone who’s been involved with enough winning sides already, though, it might simply come as second nature to McGinley.