ABU DHABI – Ireland's Paul McGinley has been appointed captain of Europe's Ryder Cup team for the biennial match against the United States next year, the Players' Committee said on Tuesday.
The 46-year-old, who holed the winning putt in the 2002 match at The Belfry, edged former skipper Colin Montgomerie in a vote taken by the 15-man committee in Abu Dhabi. Paul Lawrie, Miguel Angel Jimenez and Sandy Lyle were also considered for the post.
The popular McGinley had the support of players expected to lead the European squad in the next series of matches at Gleaneagles in Scotland.
"I have a very strong opinion about this," said world number one Rory McIlroy ahead of the vote. "I really think Paul deserves it.
"He has been a great player and a great personality for the European Tour over the years. I also played under him at the Seve Trophy in 2009 and I thought he did a great job.
"From all the captains I've played under, I think he was the best."
McIlroy seemed to be perturbed that several members of the 2012 Ryder Cup team were not on the Players Committee that decides the new skipper.
"Myself, Ian Poulter, Luke Donald and Justin Rose have all voiced their opinion that they want Paul," he said.
"I would like to think our opinions are valuable to them and they make the decision based on that. I'm not even sure there is anyone sitting on the Players Committee who is even going to make the Ryder Cup team."
McGinley has twice been a vice-captain, to Montgomerie in Wales in 2010 and to Olazabal two years later.
The Irishman served his apprenticeship as a skipper when he led Britain and Ireland to victory over Continental Europe in the Seve Trophy team event in 2009 and 2011.
He played in three Ryder Cups, from 2002-06, and was triumphant each time.
A winner of four European Tour titles, McGinley's best campaign was in 2005 when he finished runner-up three times before lifting the season-ending Volvo Masters crown.
In recent times Europe have taken the view that the Ryder Cup captain should serve for one match only, an approach that was always likely to give him an advantage over Montgomerie.
McGinley became the odds-on-favourite to succeed Jose Maria Olazabal after former British Openchampion Darren Clarke pulled out of the race on Tuesday.
"I have been to see (Players Committee chairman) Thomas Bjorn and formally informed him I do not want to be considered for the Ryder Cup captaincy in 2014," the Northern Irishman told reporters.
"It was not a spur-of-the-moment decision. I have been agonizing over what to do since I showed a few glimpses of my old form in Thailand and Australia at the end of last year."
McGinley, the first Irish captain, will be up against eight-times major winner Tom Watson who skippers the U.S. at Gleneagles, Scotland in 2014.