McGinley right in the frame

 

PAUL McGINLEY continued exactly where he left off in Wales with a stunning finish to his opening round of 65 in the BMW International Open in Cologne yesterday.

The 2002 Ryder Cup hero eagled the 577-yard 16th from 30 feet and then almost holed his approach to the difficult 456-yard last – which he birdied.

“It turned a good day into a great day,” McGinley said. “In all my life I don’t think I’ve been on that 16th in two before – that’s new technology for you.”

McGinley is in joint second place with England’s Chris Wood and Danny Willett, who also eagled the 18th – one shot behind leaders Australian Marcus Fraser and Paraguay’s Fabrizio Zanotti, who both shot opening 64s.

Wood staged his own version of The Great Escape before his fine first round. Among a number of golfers stuck in traffic and worried they might miss their tee-off times, the 24-year-old from Bristol led a breakaway movement through the fields.

“We finally decided to leg it when we had gone one kilometre in 20 minutes – it was that bad,” Wood said. “It was about 3.5km and I was a bit sweaty when I got here, but it was worth it.”

The former England international, still seeking his maiden victory on the European Tour after three runner-up finishes, grabbed no fewer than nine birdies on the Gut Larchenhof course.

There were also two bogeys on his card, however, and with a seven-under-par tally he finished the day one behind Fraser and Zanotti. “It was the best I’ve putted all year,” added Wood, perhaps best known for his fifth place in the 2008 British Open when still an amateur and then his tie for third the following year at Turnberry.

Scoring was low following some heavy rain, but that did not help Paul Casey on his latest return from injury. Ten years on from scoring a career-low 62 on the same lay-out, Casey – who missed last week’s US Open to give his shoulder more rest – managed only a 76 to be down near the rear of the 156-strong field.

Fraser birdied five of his last six holes to set the early target, while Zanotti’s round was even more action-packed – two eagles, seven birdies, a bogey and a double bogey.

Colin Montgomerie, back from television commentary work in San Francisco, shot 69, but local favourite Martin Kaymer struggled with jet-lag and had to settle for a 71, the same as Sergio Garcia.

It was a disappointing day too for Paul Lawrie. He chose not to enter the US Open because he did not think it would help his bid for a return to the Ryder Cup after a 13-year gap, but he might well have to improve on his opening 72 just to survive the cut.

Fraser, chasing his third Tour win, said: “I missed only one fairway and managed to make a few putts – it was one of those days when everything went right.”

Michael Hoey was the next best Irishman on the day, one of a host of players on three-under par. Simon Thornton and Shane Lowry shot 71s, while Damien McGrane disappointed with a 76.

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