FOUR members of Europe’s Ryder Cup team are playing in Wales this week, yet it is the off-course relationship between two of the continent’s highest-profile players that topped the agenda yesterday.
Captain Paul McGinley was forced to insist at his press conference on the eve of the Wales Open that he has no concerns over the relationship between Rory McIlroy and Graeme McDowell ahead of next week’s match at Gleneagles.
The Northern Irish pair have played together six times in the last two contests but are currently involved, directly and indirectly, in a court case with McIlroy’s former management company.
McIlroy’s legal battle with Horizon Sports Management also involves the affairs of McDowell and the judge hearing the case said on Tuesday it involved such sensitive matters that the sides should engage in mediation.
“The case has all sorts of sensitivities involving two players on tour, a manager of one of them and a former manager or agent of the other. It has all sorts of complex issues involving relationship matters,” Mr Justice Brian McGovern told both legal teams.
However, McGinley believes the issue has been dragging on for so long that it will have no effect as the pair try to help Europe defend the Ryder Cup.
“It’s not a concern,” said McGinley. “It has been going for a year and both have had very strong years.
“It has not affected their performance and both of them have assured me it’s not going to affect anything in the team room.
“I would be very surprised if they don’t play together although I’m not going to write it in stone.”
McGinley said he has a “skeleton plan” in place for his pairings and is happy with the different preparation methods of his team.
Worksop’s Lee Westwood joins Jamie Donaldson, Stephen Gallacher and Thomas Bjorn in competing at Celtic Manor.
McGinley “endorsed” Victor Dubuisson’s decision to withdraw from the tournament and prepare in France, with the players involved in the latter stages of the FedEx Cup play-offs having a rest.
The course at Celtic Manor has been set up to replicate the challenge posed by Gleneagles, where McGinley said the three rookies – Dubuisson, Donaldson and Gallacher – will each play at least one match before the singles.
Yorkshire’s Danny Willett, Simon Dyson, Richard Finch and John Parry are in the field in Wales.