Ireland’s Paul McGinley will tee up at the SAINT-OMER OPEN presented by NEUFLIZE OBC determined to put the disappointment of his failure to qualify for the US Open Championship firmly behind him.
By his own admission the 41 year old, who has not given up hope of making Captain Nick Faldo’s European Team for this September’s Ryder Cup in America, did not play to his usual high standards at Walton Heath Golf Club last Monday.
But the Dubliner has now set his sights on a strong showing at the Aa St Omer Golf Club in a bid to get his season back on track.
He said: “Of course I’d prefer to be in Torrey Pines, and if I’d played better in US Open qualifying at Walton Heath, I would be there. But that’s over now, and I have to concentrate on the here and now. I didn’t play [in Austria] last week, and I wasn’t planning on playing in the BMW [International Open], so if I hadn’t played this week it would’ve meant three weeks off in the middle of the season.
“I just felt that three weeks off at this stage would have been counter-productive. At the same time, Loch Lomond and the British Open would’ve been at the end of a big long stretch if I had played the BMW, which again isn’t ideal. So that’s basically why I’m here, just to sharpen my game and get my season going again.”
The prospect of McGinley enjoying a fruitful season had appeared sound when, at Wentworth Club last month, he led the BMW PGA Championship at the half-way stage.
But a difficult third day in testing conditions put pay to his chances of claiming his first European Tour title for two-and-a-half years, and he ultimately had to be content with a share of tenth place.
The recollection of his third round slip-up still rankles with McGinley, but he has recognised the need to re-focus quickly if he is to do himself justice at the SAINT-OMER OPEN presented by NEUFLIZE OBC, the only dual ranking tournament of the 2008 season.
He said: “I just want to stay competitive – keep playing all four rounds of tournaments, keep getting into contention, and put the past behind me. You don’t turn up to a European Tour event and expect to win it without playing very well. You have to earn it.
“I’ve got tremendous respect for a lot of these young Challenge Tour players. I’ve seen them progress onto The European Tour every year, and they always impress me. They seem to get better and better. So I’m going to have to play very well to get near the top of the leaderboard, just as I have to every week.”
Indeed, consistency will be the watchword for the next two months if McGinley is to achieve his dream of playing in, and indeed winning, his fourth successive Ryder Cup.
McGinley holed the winning putt in 2002 and was a leading member of the European Team which triumphed in his native Ireland in 2006, but the Irishman admits he will need to improve on recent results if he is to be involved when the action gets underway in Valhalla on September 19.
He said: “At the moment, I’m way off the pace. I need to start picking up very big cheques, so I’ll use this week as a stepping stone to getting my rhythm going and start feeling competitive again. I still harbour hopes of making the Team, of course I do. I just need one or two weeks in the next two months where things really go my way, and I might have a chance. It’s only a chance at the moment, but I live in hope.”
Other players in the field at Aa St Omer Golf Club hopeful of getting their hands on the trophy and a winner’s cheque for €100,000 include a quartet of players who fared well at last week’s Bank Austria GolfOpen presented by Telekom Austria.
Australia’s Peter Fowler and England’s Iain Pyman both finished in a tie for third place behind winner Jeev Milkha Singh of India, whilst France’s Francois Delamontagne and England’s Robert Rock finished a shot further back in a tie for eighth.