Ryder Cup 2014: We look at Paul McGinley's vice-captains Sam Torrance and Des Smyth

By Paul Higham Twitter: @SkySportsPaulH.   Last Updated: 11/03/14 12:49pm

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Paul McGinley has unveiled Sam Torrance and Des Smyth

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Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley has named Sam Torrance and Des Smyth as his first two vice-captains for this year's contest in Gleneagles.

Both men may not have been the first names on everyone's lips, but they are both men who know a thing or two about the Ryder Cup, and crucially they are both very well known to McGinley.

With a lot of the planning already in place, the major issue of team selection and potential partnerships is now at the top of the agenda, and McGinley and his two new right-hand men will be picking their way through the best players Europe has to offer.

But what do we know exactly about his two vice-captains? Let's have a look at their pedigree.


Sam Torrance at the 2002 Ryder Cup with Paul McGinley at The Belfry

The 60-year-old knows McGinley very well, as it was the Irishman who sank the winning putt at the Belfry in 2002 as Torrance captained the Europeans to Ryder Cup success. That knowledge will prove invaluable for McGinley as he'll have a winning captain on home soil in his ear to offer a friendly word here and there.

Sam Torrance

  • DOB: 24/8/53
  • Career wins: 44
  • Ryder Cups: 10 (1xcpt, 1xVC)
  • Playing Record: P28 W7 L15 H6
  • Holed winning putt in 1985 at The Belfry
  • Winning captain at The Belfry in 2002
  • Part of first European team to win in America in 1987

Torrance has also holed the winning putt in a Ryder Cup himself, beating Andy North in 1985, again at the Belfry - he might wish the event was again being held there this year. Torrance was also a member of the first European team to win over on American soil as they prospered at Muirfield Village in 1987.

He's played in eight Ryder Cups overall, winning three, and has collected 10 points from 28 matches, while he's been a vice-captain and a captain once each before.

Perhaps one worry would be that his last involvement was his victorious captaincy back in 2002, so it'll be a 12-year absence away from the event that he'll have to get over and get back into the swing of things.

Saying that, he was captain in last year's Seve Trophy, a shrewd move by McGinley as it enabled Torrance to get back into the habit and amongst the younger players on Tour these days - and after all few people have as much experience as his 10 Ryder Cups.

On the playing front Torrance claimed 21 European Tour victories during his time, and has also added 11 Senior Tour wins as well, while he holds the record for the most appearances in European Tour events with 706.


Des Smyth and Paul McGinley at The Ryder Cup

Perhaps a lesser known name than Torrance, but Smyth himself is no stranger to the Ryder Cup stage, having played in two himself and also been a vice-captain during a successful European victory on home soil.

Des Smyth

  • DOB: 12/2/53
  • Career wins: 23
  • Ryder Cups: 3 (1xVC)
  • Playing Record: P7 W2 L5 H0
  • Won a pro event in each of last five decades
  • Vice-captain at The K Club in 2006

The 61-year-old's best asset might be his relationship with the Ryder Cup captain, as he was a mentor to McGinley during his early years on the European Tour, and being that close can often help when offering some home truths when needed and not pulling any punches when decisions have to be made.

Smyth won two and lost five of his seven Ryder Cup matches, coming up against a tough American side over at The Greenbrier in 1979 and then suffering a nine-point reverse on home soil at Walton Heath two years later.

However, after tasting those lows he was part of Ian Woosnam's backroom team at The K Club on home soil in Ireland when Europe powered away to a record nine-point win of their own - and that will be the feeling he draws upon for Gleneagles.

McGinley was in that team at The K Club so knows how Smyth operates as a vice-captain, so again that familiarity will only help the atmosphere in the team room which is often so crucial in these huge events.

Smyth did have some success as a player as well, notching eight wins on the European Tour and five Senior Tour victories - in fact as a professional he's had wins in each of the last five decades.

Don't miss a second of the action as you can watch the Ryder Cup live and exclusively only on Sky Sports in September.

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