Paul McGinley’s hopes and fears

Paul McGinley hopes his sparkling 2nd-round 67 at the Volvo China Open will prove a turning point in a troubled season.

Paul McGinley hopes his sparkling second-round 67 at the Volvo China Open on Friday will prove a turning point in what he admits has been a troubled start to his 2009 season.
The Irishman thrust himself firmly into contention with a superb morning effort around the Beijing CBD International, ending the day three strokes adrift of leader Choi ho-sung on three under after carding a 74 yesterday.
His five-under-par score, the lowest round of the day, was largely down to fine work with his putter and following the struggles of the afternoon groups, he is now well placed to mount a title challenge going into the weekend.
And McGinley, whose best finish so far was a tie for 53rd at the Hong Kong Open in November, is optimistic he can now consign his recent woes on the greens to the past and start to produce more consistent results.
“It’s been a worrying start to the season, I’ve played decently but if I putted better I’d have played better,” he said.
“I had a good start to last season, I was leading the green in regulations this time last year even though I didn’t have any big finishes before the Ballantines and my statistics were really good but this year they haven’t been and it’s been a worry.
“I’ve been working pretty hard. I’ve been afraid of missing greens because chipping to three and four feet has been a problem, my chipping’s been quite good but my putting hasn’t.
“The putter’s made a big difference as I got a lot more aggressive with my iron shots which was great, my iron play got better as the day went on.”
Having begun the day two over par, McGinley was more concerned about making the cut than troubling the leaderboard but the Ryder Cup star now looks ahead to the closing two rounds brimming with confidence.
“Walking off that course yesterday I felt dreadful with the putter, I didn’t know how I was going to get round today,” he said.
“A putting angel must have come to me during the night because I felt great today and every putt I hit was a great putt.
“I played very well and hit 14 greens in regulation, which is a lot of greens to hit around this course.
“It’s a not a golf course you can overpower like those ones in the desert we started the season with. The more I play this game, the more I realise it’s horses for courses in the professional game nowadays, a lot of the courses we play are power golf courses.
“I wouldn’t call this a power golf course. Having said that, it can be quite a frustrating golf course because a good shot doesn’t necessarily get rewarded so patience is a big factor and you’ve got to pick your way around the golf course.
“You don’t hit driver off all the tees, you’ve got to hit fairways so you can spin the ball as best you can but it’s a golf course you’ve got to pick at rather than stand up and overpower.”
Starting on the 10th, McGinley blitzed his opening nine holes with five birdies to go out in 32 but slowed down after the turn as a bogey at the first was cancelled out by a birdie at the sixth.
“Normally when I’m five under after nine I am thinking course record but this course is a little bit different,” he underlined.
“I think the back nine is yielding more birdie opportunities than the front nine and I took advantage of that.
“The front nine is probably two shots tougher. There’s only one hole on the whole front nine you’re hitting a wedge into and the only par five is the ninth, which you’re nowhere near getting on in two.”
McGinley has played in three victorious Ryder Cup teams and victory in the Chinese capital in front of new captain Colin Montgomerie would prove a nice boost to his chances of playing at Celtic Manor in 2010 even at this early stage. It is very much a dream the Irishman still harbours.
“I think Colin Montgomerie will be an excellent captain and I’d love to have the opportunity to play under him,” he said.
“I’ve been on three Ryder Cup teams with him and I know he’s going to be a great captain and I’d love to play another Ryder Cup, of course I would.”
However, whether that dream becomes a reality depends on how McGinley’s form and body hold up over the interim period, with the latter a particular cause for concern.
“I have had four operations on my knees so they’re a big worry,” he stressed.
“I can’t train the way I want to at the moment and I think that’s going to be the case for the rest of my career and I’m going to have to be very careful with what I do. Walking up the stairs even in the clubhouse causes pain and discomfort for me.”