Ryder Cup: McGinley wants return to form

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HE MIGHT be consumed by the Ryder Cup, but the competitive fires are still burning inside Paul McGinley. Making two cuts in eight events since his appointment in January as Europe’s skipper for next year’s joust at Gleneagles is unacceptable for the Irishman.

“I don’t want to use the Ryder Cup captaincy as an excuse for my own game going downhill,” he said. “Everybody said it was going to be tough trying to mix the two – and they were right. But it’s not unachievable. If I’m organised and structured and have compartments in my mind as to what I’m doing, there’s still enough time to do everything.”

The past two days at Castle Stuart have certainly warmed the competitive cockles. After a five-under-par opening effort, the 46-year-old had moved to seven-under for the tournament yesterday until an unlucky bounce cost him an irritating double-bogey 6 at the ninth – his closing hole.

“I made such good contact out of a terrible lie in the rough and I can’t believe it got backspin pitching on a downslope,” he said, clearly annoyed but showing his undoubted class by stopping outside the recorder’s hut for a brief chat. “The last thing I was thinking was that it was going to be short. I thought it would release.”

A 20-foot putt prevented more severe damage and, for just the third time this season, he’s still around for the weekend. “It still feels as good as ever when you get going,” admitted the four-time European Tour winner. “There’s no feeling like that, when you’re in control of your game like I have been for the past two days.”

As players are trying to make his team for the match in Perthshire, he wants to be in the heat of the battle. “I want to be competitive on Tour, that’s important,” admitted the Dubliner. “I was cruising today, playing beautifully from tee to green, but the short game was a bit weak – it’s sloppy too many times.”

While McGinley won’t be revealing his hand until the end of the year, US counterpart Tom Watson recently appointed Andy North as one of his vice-captains.

“Not really a surprise,” said McGinley of that development. “It’s always hard to tell what direction Tom will go, but Andy is a very good friend of his and I’m certainly not going to question his decision.”