McGinley dismisses thoughts of qualifying for Ryder team
Irish contingent off to good start in Johnnie Walker Championship
Paul McGinley plays his second shot on the second hole during the first round of the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles. Photograph: Warren Little/Getty Images
Ryder Cup captain Paul McGinley has dismissed the notion of qualifying for his own side, despite showing some prospective team members how it is done in the Johnnie Walker Championship at Gleneagles.
McGinley along with compatriot Shane Lowry, Michael Hoey and Gareth Maybin carded a four-under-par 68 on the Centenary Course which will stage the biennial contest next year to lie three shots behind joint leaders Bernd Wiesberger and Ricardo Gonzalez.
The 46-year-old said the “chances were slim” of him making a fourth Ryder Cup team as a player when he was appointed captain in January, but was more emphatic after a round containing five birdies and just one bogey.
“To be honest I think I won’t even have myself on the points list,” said McGinley, who holed the winning putt at The Belfry in 2002 and also played in the record victories in 2004 and 2006.
“If I start playing well it’s a big bonus but one thing is for sure, there’s no way I can be a playing captain. Let’s put it in perspective, I’ve had a good round today but I’ve had a mediocre season, probably a poor season, to be honest so far.”
McGinley felt a course playing much firmer than in previous years and with less severe rough suited his game, but he will seek input from likely team members before deciding how to make the most of home advantage next year.
“The jury is still out at the moment, but it’s been a huge learning curve to go to the other end of the scale in terms of the set up of the golf course this week,” added McGinley, who took plenty of notes in his yardage book on the way round.
“I lost a ball with my second shot into the 15th last year and I was probably three yards left of the green. This year it’s good rough, but not unplayable. I don’t know which way we’ll go yet, but it’s good to get both perspectives.”
Wiesberger, who lost out in a five-man play-off here two years ago but won twice on the European Tour last season, carded a flawless 65 which was later matched by Argentinian Gonzalez, who had seven birdies, an eagle and two bogeys.
The Austrian said: “If you’re in a play-off and you have to settle for second obviously you’re disappointed, but at the time I was not safe with my card so it was progress for me.”
On a crowded leaderboard Spain’s Ignacio Garrido, Thailand’s Thongchai Jaidee, Australian Brett Rumford and English trio Mark Foster, Ross Fisher and Oliver Fisher were just one off the lead.
Of the rest of the Irish contingent Damien McGrane followed after shooting a two under 70 with Peter Lawrie another shot back on one under. David Higgins shot a level par 72 with Simon Thornton and Gareth Shaw on two over 74.