The Golfer of the Year – an award Ballesteros won on three occasions in 1986, ‘88 and ‘91 – is voted for by the golf media. He beat off competition from Rose, Tommy Fleetwood, Tyrrell Hatton and Rookie of the Year Jon Rahm...
McGinley is no stranger to the pressure cooker of Ryder Cup qualification
He may be the man picking the team this time around, but Paul McGinley speaks from personal experience when he says that he understands how stressful that final push for a place in the Ryder Cup team can be.
The OPEN D'ITALIA will be the last chance for players to earn an automatic spot at Gleneagles next month, and McGinley knows the situation having secured a place in Bernhard Langer’s team for the 2004 event following a strong finish in the final qualifying event.
“It’s a big event and a big week for so many people. It’s an exciting week,” said the 47-year-old. ““I have been in this situation before, going into the last calendar event in 2004, where I was I think just outside the team. I think I may have been 11th place with Frederik Jacobson just ahead of me.
“We had a race to the finish line right until the last day. We were drawn together on the last day and I think I finished in the top five of the tournament and edged just ahead of Freddie. I then went on to play what I considered to be my best Ryder Cup in 2004.”
And McGinley feels the pressure which the players yet to earn a place in the team are under. He said: “I can understand the pressure the guys are under. I can relate to it. There is no doubt that the performance I had in Munich in 2004 that pushed myself over the line was a huge psychological boost for me.
“It was one of the reasons why I believed I played so well. There is an opportunity for the guys that are here this week to do something similar.
“To play well in the last counting event, with the spotlight on you, will be huge for them. If not making the team, then it’s certainly useful in terms of making an impression.”
Stephen Gallacher looks to be one player who might make the cut as he plays towards the final event. However, in order for him to leapfrog Graeme McDowell into that final qualifying place, the Scot – who currently resides in 11th place – would need to win or finish runner-up at the Circolo Golf Torino - La Mandria this week.
But McGinley believes pressure can make a player better, and like he said of Jamie Donaldson at the D+D REAL Czech Masters last week, Gallacher needs to thrive on the pressure.
McGinley said: “I can relate to Stevie. I was in a situation where I had to go head-to-head so I know how he is feeling. I know how he has been feeling the last few weeks.
“He is very much in it and I wish him the very best of luck. I know what it is like to play a Ryder Cup in your home country, I had that privilege in 2006. I want to see guys bursting over the line.
“I want to see that line being something you want to gravitate towards, something that you long for and something that you play towards.
“Something that is exciting and your golf as a result raises to another level and drags you towards that line. Just like Jamie Donaldson did last week. That’s what he did. It was an exciting time for him.”