Paul McGinley: ‘Ryder Cup place is almost a foregone conclusion for Séamus Power’
“Séamus will be playing in tournaments with the most world ranking points. He’s got an opportunity to fly in the world rankings or, at worst, hold his position”
Paul McGinley believes Séamus Power must put the blinkers on and just keep going to make his Ryder Cup dream come true after cracking into golf’s “Premier League”.
The West Waterford man followed his second tour win in Bermuda with a tie for third in the World Wide Technology Championship at Mayakoba on Sunday to leap to the top of the FedEx Cup standings and to a career-high of 29th in the world.
It’s been a remarkable and brilliantly timed run by the Tooraneena man (35), whose blistering 37-under-par tally for his last eight rounds has put him amongst the six automatic qualifiers for Luke Donald’s European team for Rome.
But while Power plans to pick the brains of former European skippers McGinley and Pádraig Harrington, the winning 2014 captain believes scheduling is his biggest challenge.
“Now that he’s in the Premier League and he’s going to get into all these elevated $20 million events on the PGA Tour, in many ways, it’s going to be self-perpetuating for Séamus in terms of the world rankings,” said McGinley.
“Séamus will be playing in tournaments with the most world ranking points. He’s got an opportunity to fly in the world rankings or, at worst, hold his position. That’s what’s so great about what he’s done. He’s in the big league. And when you’re in the big league, it’s picking the schedule that’s the key.”
Historically, Power will be all but guaranteed a spot on the European team should he stay inside the world’s top 30 but with the PGA Tour staging 13 “elevated” $20m events next year in addition to the Majors, scheduling will be a challenge for everyone in 2023, including Shane Lowry and Rory McIlroy.
McGinley reckons Power could not have timed his rise to the top of the game any better given the changing landscape of professional golf with record prize funds now available and six Ryder Cup picks up for grabs.
“Luke won’t be afraid to pick a rookie, so Séamus doesn’t need to worry about that,” McGinley said. “His performances in these big events are obviously going to be important. But basically, he just has to keep going. Like a racehorse, put the blinkers on and keep doing what you’re doing and enjoying it.
“He’s got a lot of points in the board already, so he can push it to the side. I think if he can keep improving his world ranking position, he will secure a spot on the team. End of story.
Top 30 in the world is comfortably going to make the European team, and now that he’s playing in these elite events with huge points available, he’s got an opportunity to go even higher, particularly the LIV guys losing points.
“As for match play, we were brought up in the Irish system of hardened match play, and I’d have no worries whatsoever about his match play pedigree. With six picks this year again, the big key for him is to keep improving his world ranking position and if he does that, making that Ryder Cup team is a foregone conclusion.”
With three Irishmen in the world’s top 30 for the first time, McGinley sees Power as another inspiration to Ireland’s up-and-coming players, not only for Holywood teenager Tom McKibbin (19), who graduated from the Challenge Tour on Sunday but also for clubmate Gary Hurley, who joins Jonathan Caldwell, John Murphy and former Walker Cup team-mates Paul Dunne and Cormac Sharvin at the Final Stage of Q-School this week.
“The more Irish guys on tour to better,” said McGinley, who sees McKibbin as a player with a “sixth gear”. “That peer pressure and peer competitiveness is a really healthy environment to be in. They’ll pull each other along in the slipstream of, maybe not Rory, but certainly of what Shane and Séamus are doing.
“Pádraig won a Major and look what it sparked! All of a sudden, Graeme (McDowell) was winning one, Rory was winning one, Shane was winning one. That spark of competitiveness among your peer group is really important in professional golf.”
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