McGinley shuns gamesmanship

By Brian Keogh

Paul McGinley won't be pulling any funny stuff under the orders of skipper Seve Ballesteros in the Royal Trophy.

The sporting Dubliner - lauded for giving JJ Henry an improbable half when a streaker ran onto the 18th green in the Ryder Cup singles last September - has vowed to stay true to himself as Europe takes on Asia in Thailand.

Paul McGinley

Non-playing captain Ballesteros has been accused of using gamesmanship to get in his opponents faces over the course of an illustrious career.

But McGinley has no intention of changing his style as an eight-man European team bids to retain the newest team trophy in world golf at Amata Spring Country Club in Bangkok.

While he idolises boyhood hero Ballesteros, McGinley will be playing it straight down the middle in Bangkok.

He said: "I never do gamesmanship and I never try to put anybody off. Nobody ever has the hump with me.

"There is never friction involved because I don't encourage it, I don't look for it. You just go and you play.

"Of course it is competitive. It is just sheer competitiveness and you want to beat the guy and tear his heart out as much as you can but that is what sport is about. That is what drives you on."

Ballesteros drove the likes of 2008 Ryder Cup skipper Paul Azinger to distraction in several matchplay clashes against the US.

And even European stalwart Ian Poulter knows what it is like to face the tricks of the wily Spaniard, having experienced it twice in the 2003 Seve Trophy in Valencia.

Poulter recalled: "If you went to weigh up a putt, he would be standing on your line beyond the flag.

"He was always in your face, trying to distract you. Along with being able to get up and down from pretty much everywhere, that's what made him the great player he was."

McGinley, though, is a different animal and he's determined to stick with his textbook style of sportmanship rather than dip into the Ballesteros bag of tricks.

Recalling how Ballesteros would watch for possible rules infractions by his opponents, McGInley said: "Seve was a a bit like John McEnroe. Seve probably did that because he knew it would get him fired up.

"McEnroe would fight with the umpire because he knew it got him fired up. Even though he knew he was wrong but he used that as a form of geeing himself up.

"And I think Seve did that to a large extent too. He thought everybody was against him and he wanted to encourage that and bring that out. He thought that got the best out of him.

"It doesn't work for me and I don't look for it. With me it just comes from within.

"Playing for my country, playing for my family and playing for myself, my captain and my team mates. All those things instill enough in me that I don't have to look for anyone else."

McGinley, who turned 40 last month, will be using the Royal Trophy event as a tune up for the 2007 season.

Down to 74th in the world rankings, the Irish star will be hoping for a little Ryder Cup style inspiration to get his season off to a positive start.

The Dubliner will have four of his K Club team mates at his side in Thailand as Darren Clarke, Lee Westwood and Swedes Henrik Stenson and Robert Karlsson take on a talented Asian side skippered by Japan's Joe Ozaki.

Ozaki said: "We will have a close match, but I have a positive feeling about my team. We have a very good chance of winning this."

Ballesteros' side is completed by Swedes Niclas Fasth and John Edfors as well as England's Anthony Wall as they bid to repeat last year's hard-fought 9-7 win.

And senior player Clarke is convinced that Europe will have to produce top drawer golf to beat an Asian side that features the likes of Volvo Masters champion Jeev Milkha Singh and Order of Merit leader Yang Yong-Eun, the Korean who shocked Tiger Woods to win the HSBC Champions Tournament in Shanghai last November.

Clarke said: "They have a strong team and I expect it to be very close - maybe even closer than last year."

Non-playing skipper Ballesteros said: "Nothing is easy, there are no easy competitions anymore. All 16 players are champions and I expect the Asians to be very strong."

The three-day competition starts tomorrow and features foursomes on day one, fourballs on day two and singles on the final day.

Royal Trophy 2007 - Teams (world rankings in brackets)

Asia: YE Yang (33), Jeev Milkha Singh (37), Thongchai Jaidee (78), Toru Taniguchi (81), SK Ho (90), Tetsuji Hiratsuka (117), Thaworn Wiratchant (160), Prom Meesawat (186). Non-playing captain: Joe Ozaki.

Europe: Henrik Stenson (13), Robert Karlsson (29), Darren Clarke (40), Johan Edfors (44), Niclas Fasth (47), Lee Westwood (49), Anthony Wall (61), Paul McGinley (74).

Non-playing captain: Seve Ballesteros.