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McGinley feels sorry for Hal Sutton

Ireland's Paul McGinley, part of Europe's triumphant Ryder Cup team at Oakland Hills, says that despite widespread criticism of Hal Sutton the United States captain had been a superb ambassador for golf.

Sutton was attacked for several aspects of his leadership, particularly his pairing of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson, who were beaten twice on the opening day as the hosts went down to their heaviest Cup defeat, by 18-1/2 points to 9-1/2.

"I don't feel particularly sorry for the Americans but I do feel sorry for Hal Sutton," McGinley told a news conference at Mount Juliet in Kilkenny on Tuesday as he prepared for this week's WGC-American Express Championship.

"To me, the role of captain in a Ryder Cup is twofold, and one is equally as important as the other.

"One is to win the Ryder Cup and have the right strategy and do your best to win it, but the second is the ambassador role.

"We watched the way Hal was grilled and the way he took it on the chin. He took a lot of stick because he lost and also over his strategy and so forth.

"But the ambassador role he played magnificently well."

McGinley, who holed the winning putt for Europe in the 2002 Ryder Cup at The Belfry, was particularly impressed that Sutton and his wife Ashley made the effort to shake hands with the departing Europeans as they left bleary-eyed at 4.30 in the morning.

"That to me is what the Ryder Cup is about," he said.

Sutton's bold strategy could have worked at Oakland Hills, added McGinley.

"It could have ignited," he said. "To me, there were two huge points in the Ryder Cup, two massive points, because the Ryder Cup is all about momentum.

"The first one was Padraig (Harrington) and Monty (Colin Montgomerie) on the first day, winning the first one (against Woods and Mickelson). It set the scene for us. It crushed their top team, it sent a message down.

"The second one was the second morning when it looked like we were going to lose 4-0. All of a sudden, we managed to get it back through (David) Howell and (Paul) Casey.

"I was in the room when Paul rolled that putt, and the roar from the players and the relief from the players that we hadn't lost the momentum, that we were able to move on, was huge.

"We just took off. The whole team was off and running again."

Cup rookies Howell and Casey won the final two holes against Jim Furyk and Chad Campbell to snatch victory in the final fourball on the second morning.

Asked who he thought would captain Europe in the 2006 Ryder Cup at the K Club in Ireland, McGinley replied: "If Bernhard (Langer) doesn't go then Monty, (Nick) Faldo and Woosy (Ian Woosnam) are going to be the next three captains, but in what order they come I don't know."

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