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Ryder Cup 2014: A tale of two captains

By Paul Gittings, CNN
September 12, 2013 -- Updated 1204 GMT (2004 HKT)
Just how important are captains in the Ryder Cup? Just how important are captains in the Ryder Cup?
Ryder Cup 2014: A tale of two captains
European hope
Golf legend
Medinah magic
Historic team
Captain's pair
Sweet victory
Turnberry classic
Cruel miss
Tactical switch
Home advantage
  • Paul McGinley is captain of the European team for the 2014 Ryder Cup
  • Europe retained trophy with epic win over the United States at Medinah in 2012
  • The 46-year-old Irishman is still competing on the European Tour
  • Golf legend Tom Watson takes charge of the United States team

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(CNN) -- If it were a heavyweight boxing contest it would probably be ruled a mismatch.

Paul McGinley versus Tom Watson.

A cut-above European Tour player against a PGA Tour -- and just about everywhere else -- golfing legend.

In the blue corner, a man with precisely zero major titles -- tied sixth his best finish. In the red, an eight-time major champion -- and so nearly nine, improbably aged almost 60, at the 2009 British Open.

Ryder Cup captaincy experience? Next year is McGinley's first match in charge, although he was twice on winning sides as a vice-captain. Watson led the 1993 United States team which shocked Europe at its beloved Belfry to wrest back the famous trophy.

Playing record in the biennial sporting showdown? McGinley two wins and two halves from nine matches. Watson, 10 wins and a half from 15 matches.

But if the prospect of going head to head against a sporting icon in the ultimate in team sports competition has left him fazed, McGinley is showing little sign of it.

Read: How player power decided the Europe captaincy

As the European captain, the genial 46-year-old Irishman will pit his wits against Watson, who not only has won five British Open titles, but is revered in Scotland where the 2014 match will take place at the famous Gleneagles course.

With a year to go until the first shots are struck in anger in Perthshire, McGinley is well aware that the David vs. Goliath nature of the contest, at least as far as the team captains are concerned, is a talking point.

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