Ireland’s first Ryder Cup Captain Paul McGinley is enjoying the buzz of playing on home soil this week as he turns his attention back to being inside the ropes at the Irish Open.
McGinley was a satisfied observer at last week’s US Open Championship as Martin Kaymer sealed an impressive second Major Championship, giving European golf another boost ahead of September’s contest at Gleneagles.
With his team steadily taking shape, McGinley will now shift the focus back to his own playing career for four consecutive European Tour tournaments, starting with his national Open at Fota Island Resort, where he won the first of his four Irish PGA Championships in 1997.
With all four of Ireland’s Major Champions – Darren Clarke, Padraig Harrington, Graeme McDowell and Rory McIlroy – in the field, McGinley is looking forward to the home crowds coming out to support the Irish Open, which returns to the Cork venue for the first time in 12 years.
“On the back of Martin’s win, it creates a buzz for everybody at this tournament, everybody in the European Tour in the background, and obviously me, Ryder Cup Captain,” he said. “I think some venues are blessed with good weather and Fota Island seems to be blessed. The last time we were here the weather was sensational, as well, and looks like we are going to have a tremendous week too, the way the forecast is.
“It is exciting. There are a lot of exciting players in the field. Obviously Rory is going to get a lot of attention and Graeme, too, with the World Rankings and the way they have been playing and the exciting talent that they are. It's all good and there is a good buzz around the place.”
He added: “I’ve played quite decently this year to be honest, but I haven’t played that much. I think I’ve only played four or five tournaments. So I’m looking forward to playing the next four and getting a run. What I’ve missed is that run of tournaments. I seem to be playing one tournament and then taking a month off before the next one, but now I’ve got four in a row and I’m looking forward to it.”
McGinley also paid tribute to Kaymer’s majestic performance last week, after the German led from start to finish to join McDowell, McIlroy and McDowell as recent European winners of the US Open Championship.
“I was impressed like everybody,” he said. “To lead after the first round, and then to extend his lead to a bigger margin by the time the fourth round came was very impressive, because in my view the US Open is the toughest tournament to win.
“I think it’s a test not just of golf, but of mental skills. There’s a potential calamity on every hole, and it’s easy to make a double or a triple so it’s a real test of mental resilience.
“I think it’s great for the European team, and great for The European Tour. It certainly creates a buzz around the Tour. I think the fact that Martin has won and he’s a popular guy will give that little bit of extra added incentive to the other guys, too, to maybe match him and win The Open or the US PGA, as well.”
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